Brook Lopez to sit Saturday night vs. Bucks

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

Brook Lopez has played 72 and 73 games each of the last two seasons. But the Brooklyn Nets are still looking at their center as a big guy who has had three surgeries on his right foot.

Lopez has had his minutes limited in the Nets’ first two games and the team announced Saturday afternoon that Lopez will sit Saturday night in Milwaukee, the second half of their first back-to-back set.

On Friday, Lopez played just the first five minutes of each of the first two quarters, but finished with a game-high 25 points (in 25 minutes) on 10-for-18 shooting in the Nets’ 103-94 win over the Indiana Pacers. After Lopez played just 21 minutes in Boston on Wednesday, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said that the team is being cautious with its best player, as Brian Lewis wrote in the New York Post.

The Nets’ best player — like the entire roster, according to coach Kenny Atkinson — is having his minutes closely monitored already, just one game into the season. After a subpar preseason, Lopez opened the regular season by logging just 21:12 in Wednesday’s 122-117 loss to the Celtics, including 9:12 in a second half that started with him on the bench.

“What we’re trying to do with Brook is take the long-term approach, just build him up as the season goes on and increase his minutes. We have a plan in place,” Atkinson said. “It’s learning the system, it’s looking at a long-term approach to how we’re going to build him up in terms of minutes as the season goes on. He’s got some miles on him.”

Lopez said the comparison of a pitch count is fair. “That’s a pretty good metaphor for it,” he said.

In September, Nets general manager Sean Marks told NBA.com that some of the new technology and information that teams use can really help in determining how much load can and should be put on players over the course of a season.

“I think what’s interesting is what do the numbers tell you about breaking up the season,” Marks said. “Obviously, in San Antonio, we had an older group of guys. They needed rest. They needed recovery. How many minutes do they play? When should their minutes come and in what games should they play? How should they be treated? It’s a constant debate, but do the numbers and analytics match up with what [Gregg Popovich] and the coaches’ feel was?”

Lopez is only 28 and the Nets don’t have nearly as good a bench as the Spurs have had in recent years. A game against the Bucks is an opportunity to go 2-1, but the Nets will stick to their long-term plan and take it slow with their best player.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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