The very thought of Saturday night's season opener against the Raptors at Barclays Center has Gerald Wallace salivating, simply because he's eager to take the floor and crash into someone wearing a uniform that's not black, white or gray.
"It feels like we haven't played in two months," the Nets' veteran swingman said after Friday's practice at the arena. "We are anxious to get out on the court and just play against somebody other than ourselves."
Delayed by two days after the postponement of Thursday's scheduled opener against the Knicks because of Hurricane Sandy, the Nets are set to finally take the court at their $1-billion arena, officially and truly commencing their Brooklyn Era.
They're starved for some action after a 10-day break between games dating to their Oct. 24 preseason finale, and coach Avery Johnson said he noticed an increased intensity among his players as they went over final preparations for their matchup with Toronto (0-1).
Johnson is confident that they've cleared any mental hurdles regarding the events of the past few days and is certain that they're champing at the bit, ready to pounce on someone else.
"Yep, I could tell by their focus today," he said. "They are just ready to play, and this would have been more of a recovery day for us. We played the [simulated] game yesterday, we worked really hard. We watched some video, worked on some parts of our game offensively and defensively, worked on some end-of-game situations offensively and defensively.
"Now it's just a matter of time of getting these games on video and seeing where we are. Until we play against another real, live opponent, it's all simulations. And we are glad that's over."
The Nets, with nine new faces, are a constant work in progress. Kris Humphries, one of the returnees, agreed that the only true way for them to improve is to start playing actual games.
"Sometimes the things that you need to find out about yourself as a team," the power forward said, "you find out in games, strengths and weaknesses that you've got to work on. So we are looking forward to continuing the growth process and getting some games under our belt."
In a way, being forced to practice at their arena this week because of the conditions at their facility in East Rutherford, N.J., could help the Nets settle into their new digs quicker. They haven't had more than a handful of opportunities to familiarize themselves with everything.
Johnson, doing whatever he can to get his players mentally sharp, even asked to have the arena's game-day lighting in place.
"I know some of the guys aren't used to the lighting system, how the court's lit and it's dark in the stands,'' Humphries said. "It's kind of what the Lakers do and the Knicks do that. I personally like it.''
Said Johnson: "[Saturday] is a game. We've watched so many games on TV and obviously we do a lot on scouting our opponents. But yeah, [Saturday] is a game. No more simulated games or preseason games, so I know the guys are ready to go."
Notes & quotes:Johnson said G/F Josh Childress (sore left ankle) won't be available Saturday night and is 50-50 for Monday against the Timberwolves.