Sixers Continue Preseason Play, Take On Nets In Albany
The Philadelphia 76ers, now 1-1 on the preseason after a last second win Thursday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, will continue preseason play this afternoon when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Albany, New York.
The injuries for the Sixers continue to pile up, as Nerlens Noel will miss the game because of knee and back soreness. Jahlil Okafor is also experiencing soreness in his knee, but should play.
What: Nets @ Sixers
Where: Times Union Center, Albany, New York
When: October 10th, 3 PM
Where to watch: The game will not be televised on either Comcast SportsNets or NBA TV, so only fans with an NBA League Pass subscription will be able to see the game.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Sixers: Isaiah Canaan, JaKarr Sampson, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant(?), Jahlil Okafor
Nets: Jarrett Jack, Joe Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, Brook Lopez
Injury report: Joel Embiid (out, right foot), Carl Landry (out, right wrist), Nik Stauskas (out, right tibia), Kendall Marshall (out, right knee), Tony Wroten (out, right knee), Pierre Jackson (out, groin), Nerlens Noel (out, knee and back soreness).
(Notes: Who will start in place for injured Nerlens Noel has not yet been announced. For the Nets, both Jarrett Jack and Joe Johnson sat in the Nets’ first game against Detroit, as they wanted to get a look at Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington, and it’s possible that they play around with the starting lineup again. Official starting lineups should be released about 90 minutes before the game.)
About The Opponent
After making the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, including reaching the Conference Semifinals in 2014, the Nets are in a transition period. Deron Williams, Nets’ former franchise point guard, signed with the Dallas Mavericks this past offseason, they traded Kevin Garnett to Minnesota at the trade deadline for Thaddeus Young, and Joe Johnson, at 34 years old, is entering the twilight of his career.
Now the Nets look to retool around center Brook Lopez. Lopez has had injury problems of late, missing 61 (of 66) games in 2011-12 and 65 games in 2013-14. Lopez was able to play 72 games last season, averaging 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game, and the Nets rewarded him with a new 3 year, $63 million contract this past offseason.
The Nets ranked 20th in offensive rating (points per possession) and 23rd in defensive rating last season. They shot only 33.1% from the three point line, which was 26th in the league, blocked only 4.1 shots per game (25th), and were an average rebounding team (23rd in offensive rebounding, 20th in defensive).
The Nets have played one preseason game thus far, beating the Pistons 93-83 in Detroit. The Nets featured a balanced offensive attack led by Brook Lopez (17 points, 9 rebounds), Wayne Ellington (16 points, 3-6 from three), and Shane Lakrin (17 points, 2-2 from three). As a team, the Nets shot 10-21 from the three point line and forced 21 Pistons turnovers.
What To Look For
All eyes will be on Jahlil Okafor once again.
After shooting 6-10 from the field in the Sixers preseason opener, Okafor struggled a bit from the field against the Cavaliers, connecting on only 4 of his 12 attempts. Still, while Okafor relied on tough midrange jump shots to get his points against Washington he got more looks near the basket against Cleveland and got to the line 5 times, so there were positives to take from the performance.
Nets center Brook Lopez will be a tough matchup for Okafor. Lopez, listed at 7′ and 260 pounds, has strength to prevent Okafor from backing him down in the post, and has the size to contest Okafor’s shot. It will be interesting to see what quality of looks Okafor is able to generate against him. On the defensive side of the court, Lopez is a big, strong post scorer, and Okafor will have to work to deny him good post position and prevent him from backing him down.
It will also be interesting to see how Sixers head coach Brett Brown manages the rotation with Noel out. Brown could opt to go with more of a small lineup, placing either Jerami Grant or Robert Covington at the power forward spot, which could give Okafor more room to operate in the paint. He could also give more traditional big men, such as Furkan Aldemir or second round pick Richaun Holmes, more playing time. The absence of Noel should also result in more minutes for Christian Wood, an undrafted rookie out of UNLV. Wood has played well so far in limited time, scoring 9 points on 4-7 shooting in his 14 minutes of play.
It will also be interesting to see whether point guard T.J. McConnell can build on his strong performance against the Cavs. After missing the game against the Wizards with a sprained left foot, McConnell played well in his first action of the preseason, scoring 6 points, dishing out 4 assists, and playing tough pressure defense against the Cavs point guards.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.