Antsy Nets finally get a chance to play someone else
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brook Lopez probably was never happier to take a bus ride than he was Friday.
After what seemed like an endless 11-day training camp filled with nothing but banging against his own teammates, the Nets' center finally will get a crack at somebody in a different uniform.
Lopez and the new-look Nets will make their debut Saturday night in their road black uniforms with the word "Brooklyn" stitched in white, taking on the 76ers at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.
"We've been waiting for a while," Lopez said after the Nets wrapped up practice at the PNY Center. "We've been practicing every day and guys haven't been able to contain themselves. We're just ready to get out there and beat someone else up finally."
The Nets are the lone team in the league that has yet to play a preseason game, so they're extremely antsy. For a squad trying to establish cohesiveness in its All-Star backcourt and incorporate many new faces, it's not the most ideal circumstances. Coach Avery Johnson got creative in practice, doing his best to find ways to simulate game action by having two full scrimmages.
He's had so much time on his hands that he's already given his players one of their four expected written tests on the team's defensive principles, all with hopes of expediting his team's growth.
"We've got to get ourselves together,'' Johnson said. "That's why some teams, if they had six, eight preseason games, maybe they could play their starters in three or four of their games. We've got to get some time with our guys on the floor. We haven't played together. Gerald [Wallace] hasn't played with Joe [Johnson]. Joe hasn't played with Deron [Williams]. Even though Gerald was here last year, Brook didn't spend time with Gerald."
Including Saturday night's game, the Nets are slated to play five games in the next seven days, including back-to-back games with the Celtics at home and away. Johnson is ready for the grind.
"I think it's good," he said. "We want it. Three games in four nights off the bat? That's good. It's like a simulated schedule, and that's what we want. That's what's going to happen a lot in the regular season, so that's how we'll respond. We have some guys that we have to take a look at how they play in back-to-back games, like Lopez."
After watching the Nets' first and second units knocking heads for the better part of the last two weeks, Lopez is eager to find out how it's all going to come together.
"It's going to be exciting," said Lopez, who missed most of last season with foot injuries. "We've got a lot of special pieces, you know? And to see both teams playing together as one is going to be great."