EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After months of talk, the basketballs were finally rolled out for real at the PNY Center.
The Nets tipped off their training camp Tuesday, officially practicing for the first time as they prepare for the 2012-13 campaign. Everyone seemed thrilled to get started and begin their seven-plus month journey.
"Good first practice," Avery Johnson said. "We got a lot accomplished. We threw a lot at them todat. It was more of a defensive-focused practice, but we had some pretty good offense. That's what happens when you have good players."
Johnson unveiled some of the Nets' goals defensively.
"First of all, we’ve got to get back in transition and build our defense," he said, "and the only way we are going to do that is if we have good spacing on offense. Too many times in the past, we’ve had four guys crashing the boards, which put our transition defense in a bind. Transition defense is Number 1. We’ve got to get our guys back. We’ve got to protect the basket. We can’t be a team that allows layups in transition or lobs.
"And then once we get our defense set, we’ve got to make sure that we see man and ball. We’ve got to guard the ball. We’ve got to guard the first two or three dribbles. We’ve got to make sure we see man and ball. We’ve got to guard the ball. We’ve got to guard the first two or three fumbles. We can’t get blown by so easily. We’ve got to have a good team defense and this is a pick-and-roll league.
"So your pick-and-roll coverage has got to be sound, knowing that teams are still going to score 70 points, 80 points. But your pick-and-roll defense has got to be sound. We’ve tried to take out a lot of the gray area in terms of what we need to be doing.with our pick-and-roll defense. We’ve got to finish our defense with rebounding, and I saw an aggressiveness and a really good physical attitude in trying to get defensive rebounds today."
Mirza Teletovic got to sample his first true practice and admitted things are a bit different than what he's used to.
"It takes time to get adjusted, of course," he said. "All the drills are new for me. So for me, it was important to be hitting it from the first day so I can adjust very fast."
Andray Blatche was covered in sweat, his gray shirt drenched. He's getting a second chance with the Nets and seems genuinely thrilled.
"It felt great, man," he said. "It felt great to be back on there on the court, practicing and competing. It’s been a long summer, a long time for me because I was sitting down last year after a certain amount of games. So to be back on the court with my teammates and going hard, it’s a good feeling."
Joe Johnson felt the same way.
"It was great, actually," he said. "It was good to get out here with the guys, man, try to develop a little chemistry on the first day, which I thought was great. Everybody looks like they are ready. Everybody is really eager to get this thing jumped off. I’m glad everybody came in focused and ready."