The first game of the preseason was a chance for new head coach Jason Kidd to get his first win, and for the Brooklyn Nets to show the depth they have on bench, which they’re going to need if Paul Pierce is going to play as badly as he did on his debut.
The Nets beat the Washington Wizards 111-106, but Pierce finished with more fouls (4) than points (3), as he spent 12 minutes on the floor, same as Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. The missing angle in this was Deron Williams, who was busy doing push-ups on the side every time Mirza Teletovic hit a three pointer.
The Nets don’t have a backup cetner, but are loaded at forward when it comes to their bench, showcasing Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans and Andrei Kirilenko. The team actually played its best when those three were compromising the frontcourt.
Kevin Garnett, who seems angrier and angrier each time he’s asked about being too old, individually and as a team, scored 4 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, while Brook Lopez had quite an easy time, with 15 points in 12 minutes, while the Wizards didn’t really have anyone to put on him, as Nene is now the only big man in the starting lineup until Emeka Okafor comes back from his injury.
The Nets are going to need that bench to be deep and effective all season long. Deron Williams can’t shake injuries over the last couple of years (sprained ankle right now), while Kevin Garnett, more than anyone else in that lineup, greatly drops in his productivity once the minutes, games and fatigue start to backlog. Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce are a bit more durable, but the Nets also have less reliable backups in their case, at least when it comes to their scoring.
Few teams have a roster with so many capable players on the bench, but it all seems a bit gray, without spark, because there’s no one to really replace what Williams and Johnson can do when they’re healthy. There’s no doubt that a healthy Nets can be a big problem to the Heat, Bulls and Pacers in the East, but it’s hard to imagine this group staying healthy enough all season long to become a team that strikers fears in others come playoff time.