5 Bold Predictions for the Brooklyn Nets' Opener Against the Toronto Raptors
The Brooklyn Nets are set to open their season on November 3 at the Barclays Center due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and the Toronto Raptors will be looking to spoil the Nets' home opener in Brooklyn.
The Raptors are a team on the rise, so I expect them to be ready to play against the Nets.
Brooklyn will look to get off to a fast start in their new city and new arena, and I fully expect the Nets to play a spirited game in their opener.
The Nets also have a new cast of players to run out there, and those players should also look to play hard and fast against the Raptors.
Here are a few predictions for Saturday night's game.
Deron Williams Will Go for 20 and 10...Rebounds
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Deron Williams is the face of this team, and he'll look to get his team off to a hot start in the opener.
He's a near-lock for close to 20 points per game (his career average is 17.6 PPG). Even with the new firepower he has at his disposal, look for Williams to take his fare share of shots.
The Nets now have a few guys who like to create for themselves—i.e. Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace—so I don't expect Williams to post double digit assists in this one.
Look for him to grab double digit boards, however.
He rebounds relatively well for a point guard, and may look to crash the glass against the Raptors. They will fire up a lot of shots and could give him the opportunity to put up a nice line.
Brook Lopez Dominates the Glass
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Williams won't be the only one excelling on the glass on opening night.
Brook Lopez has had problems pulling down rebounds in his young career, averaging just 7.5 per game as a man that stands seven-feet tall.
He posted 7.6 per game in the preseason, but that happened in limited minutes. He may be on his way to a big season in terms of rebounding.
Jonas Valanciunas will be guarding Lopez, and it'll be his first taste of NBA action. Look for Lopez to exploit the rookie.
I fully expect Lopez to dominate under the basket, possibly pulling down 15 rebounds.
Joe Johnson Struggles
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Joe Johnson was the biggest acquisition made by general manager Billy King this offseason. His veteran scoring presence will be a huge improvement over what the Nets had last season.
That being said, I expect him to struggle a bit in the opener.
Playing in front of a new city, in a new arena and against a rival will get to Johnson. He may still score a very respectable 15 points with five or six assists, but he will shoot less than 40 percent from the floor.
For a guy whose career mark is 44 percent, that will come as a shock to Avery Johnson.
As a result, MarShon Brooks could see some valuable minutes in this one.
Andray Blatche Shows His True Colors
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Andray Blatche has always been a player troubled with inconsistencies and off-court issues.
He excelled during the preseason, scoring 11.7 points per game. He was a top-five player on the Nets in training camp and has probably set himself up for valuable minutes during the regular season.
I predict that he reverts back to his old form though, and that regression will begin on opening night.
Blatche is not your usual center. He is not a big-framed guy and doesn't excel at rebounding. He'd rather pull up for a jump shot than back down his opponent, and has averaged just 2.3 free throw attempts per game in his career.
Blatche will go back to being an unreliable option by the end of the season's first month, and the first step in that direction will begin against the Raptors.
Of All the Reserve Small Forwards, Tornike Shengelia Plays the Most Minutes
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Tornike Shengelia and Mirza Teletovic were the Nets two international signings this offseason, and it's unclear as to which will have the bigger impact on the team this season.
In the opener, though, I expect Shengelia to have a big impact. So much so, that he'll play the most of any reserve small forward.
On the depth chart, it's safe to say that Josh Childress is second behind Gerald Wallace. After that, it's Shengelia and then Jerry Stackhouse.
Shengelia will play so well when he sees the floor on opening night, that Avery Johnson will have no need to go to Childress, though.
Shengelia can shoot very well and handle the ball well for a guy his size. This should help stretch the floor for the Nets.
Look for him to have a big impact.