Nets point guard Deron Williams speaks to reporters during the...

Nets point guard Deron Williams speaks to reporters during the team's annual Media Day at the Barclays Center. Credit: James Escher

Kevin Garnett pounded his chest with a clenched right fist as he peered at fans seated in the east end of Barclays Center, mumbling some choice words with hopes of getting them amped up.

Paul Pierce got a rousing ovation when he was introduced and heard the cheers minutes later after swishing a 20-foot jumper.

"It felt like a first day of school, to be honest," Garnett said after the Nets fell to the Pistons, 99-88, in Brooklyn's preseason home opener. "I was super excited. Paul can concur to some of this that there's good energy in there. You can tell the city and the community and we are just trying to give that back in our hard play and our effort."

But as Garnett and Pierce settle in, the Nets can't truly pass the litmus test just yet. They are missing two of their main cogs, a pair of guards who'll have instrumental roles.

Deron Williams is the guy who's going to mash his foot on the accelerator in the Nets' sporty car, but their new ride is essentially still in the garage getting a little maintenance until Williams is given clearance from the team's training staff to go all out on his right ankle.

Jason Terry, who just ratcheted up his full contact in practice this week as he eases back into the mix following offseason knee surgery, is another gift that coach Jason Kidd hasn't been able to unwrap. The plan is for Terry to step into the Nets' sixth-man role, providing an infusion of energy and some scoring punch off the bench, helping key their second unit.

Neither Williams nor Terry have a timetable for hitting the court this preseason, and although it's not exactly an ideal scenario for Kidd as he tries to mesh his troops, there's more than one way to look at it.

"Continuity is the main thing, man," Garnett said. "The reason why we're always together and just be in each other's faces and understand who we are individually and that's not easy, putting a group of talent, a group of guys, a group of basketball players with high IQs, it's a positive thing. But you have different lineups, playing with different matchups."

"Stuff like that takes time. I don't like the fact that we are giving up a lot of turnovers. That comes through a test of continuity. I think the better we know each other, some of those turnovers will obviously come down. But those are signs your team is getting better."

Still, there's nothing like having the team's All-Star floor general in command, and the Nets might not get that luxury until the season tips off. Kidd suggested that he'd be comfortable with Williams sitting out the entire preseason -- or maybe a bit longer -- if that's what it takes for him to be healthy.

Williams appears to be moving well in his light pregame workouts, so it's apparent that the Nets are being ultraconservative with him after his injury-plagued inaugural campaign in Brooklyn.

"He's day-to-day," Kidd said. "This is going to be a question we'll have to deal with every day until he does get the green light to go, but we are not rushing him. So if we have to start the season with him still trying to get better, then I think we'll all feel comfortable with it. I think we would feel more comfortable if he was starting."

An obvious frustration bubbled within Williams early on as he watched on the side during team drills in practice. But he's seeing the bigger picture, as painfully difficult as that might be.

"Now that I've missed training camp, it's kind of sunk in," Williams said. "It's the smart thing to do, and just try to get ready for the regular season because preseason doesn't matter."

"We've still got a lot of work to do," Williams said. "We've still got to get me and Jet back out there and then we can really see. But like I've said, we are excited about this team and the potential we have."

So, too, are the Nets. They're eager to see their team whole.

"He's going to be the engine that's going to drive this team at both ends of the court before we could really see how we're going to reach our full potential," Pierce said. "So you know, it's up to us with the guys that we have out there to continue to get better, to continue to understand what we're trying to accomplish each and every night."

Kevin Garnett pounded his chest with a clenched right fist as he peered at fans seated in the east end of Barclays Center, mumbling some choice words with hopes of getting them amped up.

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