The Brooklyn Nets have wrapped up the first segment of their three-and-a-half week preseason and will take the court for their first preseason game of the year Friday night at Barclays Center with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off against SESI/Franca Basketball Club of Brazil.
“Preseason to me goes to the first official game,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson after Thursday’s practice session. “This is the first five days. It was important. Very pleased. We were on a quicker time table because of the China trip and understanding how that could be a little more difficult to get things done. But very pleased considering we had an accelerated pace.”
“The first week has been great,” said Joe Harris. “Kenny’s approach is pretty much the same since I’ve been here, where instead of the two-a-days, we just have a little bit longer one practice a day. A lot of teaching stuff initially, but then you go right from the teaching stuff into a competitive environment, applying whatever we talked about to begin practice. Then today was primarily just a scrimmage day to get ready for our game on Friday.”
With the China trip in the offing next week, the Nets did get a few days head start on the typical preseason schedule, as did other teams heading abroad.
Atkinson professed himself pleased with the way the team has picked things up, particularly with nine new players on the 16-man roster (the Nets have one two-way spot still open) plus camp invites.
“I think it’s your defensive system,” said Atkinson. “I think that’s important. That’s No. 1. Number 2 is our offensive principles. Knowing that the defense is going to be ahead of the offense a little bit and that’s kind of how we’ve always done it and maybe you’re accepting a little more lack of execution for lack of a better phrase. But definitely the defense is No. 1, see where we are there. And then it’s getting to know the personnel better, especially the new guys, where they fit best with what we’re doing.”
A long scrimmage closed camp on Wednesday, and now Atkinson is looking forward to the next phase as the Nets take the court against outside competition for the first time this season.
“Just get a feel for the team, the guys and the rotations and guys playing together,” said Atkinson. “Where guys are. Where are we with our system? We want feedback now. We’ve kind of battled each other and had an intrasquad scrimmage today and got feedback there, but the best feedback is a real throw it up and play game.”
IRVING OUT ON FRIDAY
Kyrie Irving will not play in Friday’s game. The free agent guard took a shot to the face on Sept. 24 and was held out of the first three days of camp, returning on Tuesday wearing a mask.
“That’s been worked (out),” said Atkinson. “I’d say there’s push more from our side, coaching staff and performance just being cautious and smart about his build-up.”
SHORT TURNAROUND FOR HARRIS
While it’s a new season starting, Joe Harris is just three weeks removed from real game action. If he wasn’t with Team USA for six weeks training for and playing in the World Cup, Harris would have remained active preparing for the season as he usually does. But the international competition did present a different environment than he would normally be in at that time of year.
“It’s hard to say because although I was playing in a more competitive environment, I feel like I’m in great shape, but it’s sort of the same with everybody else,” said Harris. “The offseason for the NBA, it’s not like you just aren’t doing a lot to get ready. Sometimes the offseason, the training protocol is even more intense. That way you can kind of taper off once you get into the season. But everybody’s in great shape coming in. It’s not like it takes any time. I think maybe from a rhythm standpoint, just because I played in actual game settings, it’s a little bit easier of a transition that way. But not a huge difference.”
This is the first of four preseason games for the Nets. After Friday night’s game, they’ll have their annual Practice in the Park at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday, then depart for China on Sunday. The Nets will play the Lakers in Shanghai on Thursday, Oct. 10 and Shenzhen on Saturday, Oct. 12. Both games will tip off at 7:30 a.m. EST.
The games will be broadcast on NBATV, with Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw providing commentary.
The Nets will return for their final preseason game against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center on Friday, Oct. 18.