The Brooklyn Nets make their exclusive national television debut tonight as they take on the Boston Celtics, and in addition to being the Barclays Center’s first national look, it will be significant for the announce team as well – specifically for Marv Albert, the Brooklyn-born former Nets on YES play-by-play announcer who will be doing basketball in his home borough for the first time tonight. He will be alongside current Nets on YES analyst Mike Fratello, and you can read more about his homecoming here courtesy of TheBrooklynGame.com.
Come tip-off, if the Nets are to snap their three-game losing skid against the Celtics, they will have to do it without the services of Gerald Wallace, who will miss his sixth straight game with a sprained ankle – a status that “Crash” himself spilled during a charity appearance on Wednesday.
"I'm not playing tomorrow," Wallace told the media at a charity event Wednesday in Manhattan. "I'm basically day to day. I'm just doing what they tell me. I'll be re-evaluated in the morning and then we'll go from there."
Coach Avery Johnson noted that missing Wallace tonight against Boston’s Paul Pierce, who is averaging nearly 20 points per game this season, may hurt more than it has of late, but he is confident in those tasked with picking up Wallace’s slack.
“No matter who he’s playing, Paul Pierce is a handful … having Gerald out obviously puts us in a bind, but no excuses,” Johnson said. “We’ve talked about our team being deeper than it has ever been, so now is the time to step up. Bogans has been providing defensive stability for us, and it’s given us a chance to really look at Josh Childress and give him minutes.”
As for MarShon Brooks, who has missed the last three games with a sprained ankle of his own, he was a game-time decision earlier in the day, and coach Avery Johnson said about 90 minutes before tipoff that he was active and shouldn’t have any limitations.
“MarShon is active, and Toko (Tornike Shengelia) is inactive,” Johnson said. “We’ll see how it goes (minutes-wise), you’ll basically see the same rotations you’ve seen over the last couple games, and if I need to go to MarShon tonight, we’ll go to him tonight; we’ll play it by ear.”
Brooks has a bit of history with Boston, as he was actually drafted by the Celtics with the No. 25 pick in 2011 before being traded to the Nets, and he made first career start against Boston as well.
Joe Johnson was also a draftee of the Celtics back in 2001 (going No. 10 overall before being traded to Phoenix midway through his rookie year) and Avery Johnson was teammates with Boston head coach Doc Rivers for two years with the Spurs (1994-96), so there is quite a bit of familiarity all around, and Avery spoke extensively in his pre-game press conference about the Celtics’ culture, notably how they have been the Atlantic Division’s standard of excellence of late and the things he takes from preparing to play them.
“Doc (Rivers) has done a really good job with this team, and I think the way Kevin Garnett communicates defensively is outstanding, so I bring his name up a lot when talking with our big guys,” Rivers said. “I think you can take bits and pieces from what successful programs have done. I tried to take a lot of what I saw in San Antonio when I went to Dallas, and now here; that’s what successful organizations do, and I’m sure (Nets GM) Billy (King) does that too.”