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With Fresh Start, Nets Face Celtics in Season Opener

Season Opener: 

Rejoice Nets fans, basketball is back.

The Brooklyn Nets kick off the 2016-17 season on Wednesday night against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Celtics. The Nets and Celtics split their season series last season.

The Nets underwent major changes last season, bringing in 10 new players – headlined by point guard Jeremy Lin – and a new coach in Kenny Atkinson. Only five players – Brook Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sean Kilpatrick and Chris McCullough – return for the Nets.

Wednesday will be Atkinson’s first regular season game as an NBA head coach, a prospect that excites the Northport, L.I. native.

“I’m just excited to play a real game and start getting a feel for who we are and what our team is like,” head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters on Tuesday.

Injury Report:

Randy Foye (mild strain, right hamstring) and Caris LeVert (left foot rehab) are out for the Nets on Wednesday. Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) and Marcus Smart (ankle) are out for the Celtics.

Foye was expected to start at the 2 for the Nets, so his replacement is yet to be determined, though Bojan Bogdanovic, Sean Kilpatrick and Joe Harris are among the candidates to start in Foye’s place. Keep an eye on Nets social media Wednesday for the most up-to-date information.

The Boston Celtics official website expects Terry Rozier to receive more minutes in Smart’s place.

Nets To Debut New Offense and Defense:

On top of the personnel changes, the Nets plan on running a motion offense, moving away from the iso-offense that characterized the team in recent years. Three-pointers are going to be a focal point of the offense and the Nets averaged the third-most three’s in the preseason.

Atkinson is also implementing a new defensive scheme, which he deems the priority for the Nets. He said the team tested out 70% of their defense in the preseason and now the challenge is perfecting it and gelling together with such an overhauled lineup.

Al Horford Headlines Celtics’ Signings:

Gone are rotation players Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner, but the Boston Celtics went out and added a big piece in the offseason, signing four-time all-star Al Horford.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson knows Horford well from their days in Atlanta together and what the 30-year-old brings to the table. Last season Horford averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 boards in 32 minutes, shot over 50% from the field and has the ability to stretch the floor. With Amir Johnson in the Celtics rotation, the 6’10 Horford could play power forward.

Horford joins a Celtics team that won 48 games last season – their most since 2010-11 – and includes all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 22.2 points and 6.2 assists last season. Second and third leading scorers Avery Bradley (15.2 points) and Jae Crowder (14.2 points) also return for the Celtics.