New Jersey Nets: 10 Must-Watch Games on the Schedule This Season

Louis Musto@LouisMustoContributor IIIDecember 21, 2011

New Jersey Nets: 10 Must-Watch Games on the Schedule This Season

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    The New Jersey Nets enter their final season before relocating to Brooklyn with a shortened schedule and playoff aspirations.

    A few weeks ago, NBA fans everywhere were unsure there would even be an NBA season. Now, fans are preparing for a forthcoming opening day on Christmas with a plethora of exciting games on the docket.

    The Nets are not part of that Christmas Day lineup of games, but have much to be thankful for in this basketball season. An otherwise losing team and a shortened schedule enables a team like the Nets the opportunity to make a playoff run if they can spark enough of an early-season hot streak.

    With Deron Williams on the roster for the entire season, and a number of returning players and additions such as former New York Knick Shawne Williams, the Nets could contend for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, led by coach Avery Johnson at the helm.

    With the 2011-12 schedule released just days ago, let’s look at the top 10 must-watch games for Nets fans this season.


    All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

10. December 26 at Washington Wizards, 7 p.m. on YES Network

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    Of course, one of the must-watch games for the New Jersey Nets season is their season opener on December 26 in Washington against the Wizards.

    This game will boast some of the top young talents in the game today, and is sure to feature some exciting, high-powered basketball. The Wizards should prove a challenge for the Nets to start a 10-game stretch that includes the Atlanta Hawks three times, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.

    Both the Nets and Wizards have the ability to make a play for the Eastern Conference playoffs this season, and this game will be an interesting preview of what is to come.

9. January 4 at Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m. on YES Network

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    The Boston Celtics have been one of the beasts of the East for the past few seasons. It’s unlikely that will change in 2011-12, despite the aging trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

    This will be the first test for the New Jersey Nets against a top team in the NBA and should be a rough one.

    Concerns regarding the Nets and their ability to play against top talent this season will surely be answered on this night in Boston.

8. December 27 vs. Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m. on YES Network

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    Of course, the final home opener for the New Jersey Nets in Newark is a must-watch game. Plenty of Nets fans aren’t happy about the move, and this will be a significant game to them.

    Add in a talented opposing Hawks team, full of offensive firepower, and this game has the makings of a good one.

    A successful early-season night against the Hawks could be a positive foreshadowing for the season to come in New Jersey if Avery Johnson can have his team ready to perform.

7. January 14 at Utah Jazz, 9 p.m. on NBATV and YES Network

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    The New Jersey Nets head out west and Deron Williams returns to Utah in this exciting matchup.

    Will the people of Utah welcome Williams back with open arms or shower him with boos?

    Williams likely couldn’t be bothered, but the return to Utah might spark a solid performance from the former Jazz point guard. Add the aura of being on national television, and the Nets could have a great performance against a fellow team still trying to piece together a winning franchise.

6. January 7 vs. Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m. on YES Network

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    Love them or hate them, the Miami Heat are always must-watch. Whether it's to watch them in hopes of a potential upset by the New Jersey Nets, or purely to watch LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh put on a clinic, is all up to you.

    The Prudential Center will be jam-packed for this one, and it’s possible there will be more Heat "fans" in attendance than Nets fans on this night.

    Who knows, if the Nets play well enough, the Heat might just go home crying like they enjoy to do so often.

5. February 28 at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. on YES Network

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    The New Jersey Nets don’t get to welcome the NBA Champions to Newark this season, but will get the pleasure of entering the home of the Dallas Mavericks at the end of February.

    A number of changes have already altered the Mavericks roster, but they are still a stellar group with solid talent.

    Watch this game. Keep an eye on what the Mavs do and hope that someday soon, the Nets will play like the Mavs—or at least something close to it.

4. January 23 at Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m. on YES Network

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    The New Jersey Nets cap off their first back-to-back-to-back series of games on a collision course with Eastern Conference powerhouse Chicago Bulls.

    While the Nets do their best to keep together on the rare three-day, three-game stretch, they will have to work hard to defend MVP Derrick Rose and the Bulls' high-flying scoring attack. This game will present a legitimate look into one of the top teams in the NBA.

    The back-to-back-to-back series could decide the direction of the Nets season from this point on. If the Nets make it out alive—they are scheduled to play Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first game of the three-game stretch—that is certainly a positive sign.

3. February 22 vs. Orlando Magic, 7:30 p.m. on YES Network

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    The New Jersey Nets welcome Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic to the Prudential Center in February—or will they?

    The Nets certainly hope Howard will be a member of the roster by that time, but things don’t appear too overly optimistic for either side right now. Still, Nets fans should be excited to see their potential center of the future come this time if he is not a Net already.

    If nothing more, Nets fans will be able to watch Dwight Howard display the outstanding offensive and defensive threat he could have been for their franchise.

2. February 20 at New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. on YES Network and MSG

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    The New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks have a classic rivalry, though not quite as storied as others in the NBA. It will only grow stronger when the Nets make the move to Brooklyn, mere miles from Madison Square Garden and the Knicks.

    This game marks the last time the Nets will play in NYC before their own move to the greatest city in the world in 2012.

    With talent on the Knicks roster as well as a bright future ahead for the Nets, and the excitement that always is a Knicks-Nets game, this game will be one of the best for the New Jersey Nets.

1. April 23 vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 p.m. on YES Network

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    New Jersey Nets fans are dreading the end of the 2011-12 season, because they know it will be the last time they are able to enjoy their time in the state of New Jersey—at least for the foreseeable future.

    April 23rd, 2012 presents the final home game for the Nets in Newark, and lines up a great matchup against a division rival in the Philadelphia 76ers. Come April, this game could certainly have playoff implications—which Nets fans hope will include Dwight Howard on the roster—and will be very important for both teams.

    The energy inside the Prudential Center will be unimaginable on this night. If this game helps decide whether or not the Nets continue on into the playoffs—and play at least a few more games in Newark—Nets fans will not want to miss this game.