The Nets open their preseason schedule against the Pistons Thursday night at Barclays Center, but it’s not the “big reveal,” as they say on the home shows. The massive roster renovations still are in the construction stage, and despite having more than a week of training camp in the books, even new point guard Jeremy Lin admits he has “no idea what to expect.”
For now, Lin is saving his butterflies for the regular-season home opener on Oct. 28. “Honestly, I’m not that focused on that part of it,” Lin said of the excitement of his Brooklyn debut. “I’m more focused on, ‘How do I keep building this team?’ When opening night comes around, I’ll really feel that.
“It’s one thing to practice, but a lot of stuff that might work in practice is going to be different in a real game. This is going to be our first experience of really what it’s going to look like, and I have no idea what to expect.”
New coach Kenny Atkinson didn’t offer much in the way of clues after practice, declining to reveal his starting lineup or how much playing time his regulars may expect. It’s uncertain whether forwards Luis Scola and Bojan Bogdanovic will play against the Pistons because they have not been full participants in practice after playing for their Olympic teams in Rio.
The most noteworthy aspect of the preseason opener will revolve around the aggressive, help defensive style that Atkinson has installed. “I think it’s a great defense,” Lin said. “The best way I could describe it is that I hate playing against this type of defense. That’s my ultimate sign of respect for this defense. Now, it’s a great defense conceptually, but we have to get it down to the point where we’re doing it and executing it the way we need to.”
So far, Atkinson loves how all the new players have fit into the system in practice. But will that hold up in games?
“We’d like to have some success, especially with our defense,” Atkinson said. “I think that’s really important so they’re like, ‘Hey, man, this stuff works.’ I see the improvement, but the proof in the pudding is going to be when we play these games.”
The Nets are running a motion offense similar to what the Spurs have been doing for years. But it’s an open question whether they have the personnel to make it work. Lin said the Nets have embraced the team concept wholeheartedly in training camp.
“Realistically, we all understand where everyone’s expecting us to finish, and what everyone is thinking about us,” Lin said. “We know that, if we’re going to do anything, we’re going to do it together. There haven’t been any egos. We’re going to move the ball, and if we don’t, I’m sure we’ll be held accountable.”