The Brooklyn Nets will be in Montreal on Wednesday night for a preseason game against the Toronto Raptors as part of the NBA Canada Series. It's the sixth year of the series, and another entry in the franchise's logbook for international play, with previous preseason games in China, England, France, Italy and Israel. The Nets have also participated in four NBA Global Games regular season trips, including last season's two-game set in Mexico City.
But it's also part of a busy preseason stretch. The Nets are playing three of their four preseason games in just five days, with Wednesday night's game bookended by Monday night's win in Detroit and Friday's visit to play the Knicks that concludes their preseason schedule.
Coach Kenny Atkinson liked the way this particular week mimics the grind the Nets will face during the regular season.
“I think the way it worked out, I am glad we’re having this road trip coming up to simulate three games in a week’s span, but no particular reason," said Atkinson. "I think that’s just the way it worked out. It wasn’t a strategy or anything.”
THE INJURY SHUFFLE
The Nets have been working around injuries, with returning starter Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and newcomers Kenneth Faried and Shabazz Napier sidelined for big chunks of camp, among others. All three were held out of the preseason opener against the Knicks, and then Monday's game in Detroit as well. It was a topic of interest following practice on Sunday, even before starting guard Allen Crabbe rolled his ankle three minutes into the game against the Pistons.
"You can say that to a certain extent," said DeMarre Carroll, when asked whether the injuries impact the team's preparation for the season. "We've still got a couple guys out, Rondae and Shabazz. I think those two key guys are part of our rotation, big part of our team. It's definitely difficult, but at the end of the day we'll definitely get through it."
Faried had initially been expected to play Monday, but his likely preseason debut was pushed back to Wednesday. Newcomer Treveon Graham got an opportunity when Crabbe left the game and started the second half as well, playing 34 minutes.
“I think you do the best you can," said Atkinson on Sunday. "It’s the NBA. I think every team deals with it and you have to mix and match and that’s what we’re doing.”
CARROLL AT THE FOUR
One consequence of Hollis-Jefferson being sidelined has been Carroll starting at the four spot, with Caris LeVert sliding into the starting lineup. Before the Nets played the Knicks last Wednesday, Atkinson said Hollis-Jefferson would be returning to the position when healthy, and "we'll figure out the wings after."
If Crabbe is out Wednesday, the Nets will either have to slot a guard into the lineup or slide Carroll back up to the three. Either way, the 6-foot-8, 10th-year veteran said Sunday he expects significant minutes at the four spot this season.
"Right now, I think that will be the likelihood, me playing the four, being able to stretch the floor," said Carroll, who had nine points and nine rebounds against the Pistons. "I think that's where the modern NBA's going. It's a copycat league. All three-men are kind of moving to the four. That's something that I've really been working on. But at the same time, still going to play some three. But at the end of the day, to last long in this league, most guys are moving down to the four, so that's why you've got to get used to it."
ABOUT THE RAPTORS
After leading the Eastern Conference with 59 wins last season but being swept in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Toronto Raptors made significant changes. Out was NBA Coach of the Year Dwane Casey after seven seasons, replaced by assistant Nick Nurse. They also made a bold move in trading All-NBA Second Team guard DeMar DeRozan for Spurs swingman Kawhi Leonard, an All-NBA First Teamer in 2016 and 2017 who played just nine games for San Antonio in 2017-18. Point guard Kyle Lowry (16.2 ppg, 6.9 apg) is back, along with frontcourt starters Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka. Toronto has played three preseason games so far, with wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Melbourne United and a loss to the Utah Jazz.