EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Players are rarely thrilled to get their scrimmage on. Simulating game action is never as fun as the real thing.
But for the Nets, it's time to gauge their progress after three days of the training camp grind. Joe Johnson, for one, seems excited to hit the court here at the PNY Center Friday evening in the Nets' Black & White scrimmage.
"I can’t wait, just to get a chance to get up and down the floor in a game-type situation," the All-Star shooting guard told me. "So, it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be intense in here. Guys are ready to kind of get after it and see what everybody’s got."
Avery Johnson wanted to try make Friday feel like a typical game day, so he had the team come in this morning for a shootaround. With a team that features nine new faces, the thinking is to get the players acclimated to the way Johnson is looking to structure things.
"You walk around and ask guys questions about their routines," Johnson said, "and the main thing is if they are all-in on what we are doing. That's when it’s really going to work. They’ve got to be all in on what time we start, how we have shootaround. Is it going to be video and some shooting and then we go home? Whatever we decide to do, they’ve got to be all in because that’s the only way it’s going to work.
"So they had a little idea of what we are going to do, and what we are thinking about and drills that we are going to run and shootaround. How we are going to talk about our opponent, how we are going to focus on what we do. It was a good little dry run."
Two of Johnson's assistants -- Popeye Jones and Mario Elie -- selected the two teams draft-style. But not before Johnson put his stamp on one squad in particular.
"Even though Popeye and Mario are the coaches," Johnson said with a laugh, "I started off the draft by making sure that Deron and Joe Johnson were on the same team. I wanted to make sure that they played on the same team tonight and we’ll figure out the rest."
Williams and Johnson will be joined on the Black Team by Josh Childress, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche, Keith Bogans, Stephen Dennis and James Mays.
The White Team: C.J. Watson, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, Tomike Shengelia, Carleton Scott, Reggie Evans and Jerry Stackhouse.
The plan is to go for a total of 36 minutes.
"What we are going to try to do," Johnson said, "we will play all NBA rules in the first quarter, and then from there we are going to play a real second quarter. Then I hope to fast forward to a fourth quarter. So in a perfect world, I’d like to get in three really hard, but normal, NBA quarters. That’s the goal for tonight."
Johnson liked what he saw in the morning shoot.
"It was pretty interesting to see both teams broken up, one team going over the video in the theater, another team out here going over their video," Johnson said. "Seeing Popeye and Mario with all of their stuff on the board in terms of their strengths and weaknesses of their opponents and how they want to play certain situations, it was good.
"It was good. I think the assistants did a good job and hopefully we’ll have some carry over tonight."