Two nights after finally opening their season with a 107-100 win over Toronto, the Brooklyn Nets look to put a second notch in the left column against the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.
Brooklyn will be without starting small forward Gerald Wallace, who coach Avery Johnson said is day-to-day after spraining his left ankle during Saturday’s game.
“We’ll continue to treat him (Wallace) and see how he feels; probably keep him in the back during the game, ice him and treat him, and see where he is when we get on this road trip,” Johnson said before the game. He’s still a little bit battered, not good enough to play in the game, but he’ll be on the road trip.”
Brooklyn will also be without forward Josh Childress, who will miss his second straight game with the sprained left ankle he tweaked during the Oct. 24 exhibition finale – but Minnesota is missing arguably its two top players, forward Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio, and as the Wolves are also coming off a 104-85 loss in Toronto last night, Johnson wants the team to get off to a fast start.
Keith Bogans, who played less than a minute on Saturday night, will start in place of Wallace, and Johnson said that the decision was part matchup and part Bogans knowing his strengths.
“There are a couple of different ways we could have gone tonight,” Johnson said, “but we decided on Bogans, and we’ll see what kind of energy he can give us defensively early on. And, hopefully, if he’s open in the corner for some of his backside threes, he’ll make them.”
Brook Lopez will also be a key according to Johnson, as he’ll be starting opposite Nikola Pecovic, a player he has never faced before.
“(Pecovic) is big and strong and physical, so it will be a big matchup for Brook,” Johnson said. “It’s a team game, but you still have to win your individual matchups, so we’ll see how Brook responds. Blatche too, as they’re a two-headed center combo and we think we can have an advantage there.”
The crowd may also become a factor tonight, as Johnson said that the fans were a big advantage on Saturday and the team admitted they fed a lot off the fans’ energy in the opener.
“The great thing about our building is that when the fans start to chant ‘Brooklyn’ or ‘Defense,’ they do it on their own,” the coach said, “and when the fans are really crazy about their team, that’s when you start to move in the right direction. I hear it coming down the elevator, from the fans, the parking guys, everyone … everybody wants to talk basketball and is out there with their Nets gear on, and the excitement level is high.”