Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — It wasn’t pretty on Sunday, but the completion of a home-and-home sweep against the Orlando Magic got the Brooklyn Nets to 3-2 on the young season as an intriguing two-game home stretch gets started on Tuesday night.
Before the Boston Celtics come to town Thursday evening, the Cleveland Cavaliers pay a visit tonight. The 2-5 record may be a bit deceiving as the Cavs have one of the NBA’s electric young stars at point guard. Additionally, he is just one half of one of the league’s younger and more exciting backcourts.
Below is your Pregame Primer
At just 20 years old, second-year Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving has established himself as one of the NBA’s top lead guards, capable of dominating all facets of the game. Through seven games, Irving is averaging 22.9 points, 6.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds.
The 6-foot-3 New Jersey native—who grew up a New Jersey Nets fan—averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 51 games last season on his way to earning the Rookie of the Year award.
Against the then-New Jersey Nets last season, Irving averaged 23.7 points over three meetings as the Cavaliers won the season series, 2-1.
At shootaround on Tuesday morning. Nets head coach Avery Johnson said the they struggled to defend Irving last season because they didn’t take him “seriously.”
Irving is joined in the backcourt by 6-foot-4 Philadelphia native Dion Waiters. The 20-year-old rookie is off to a hot start, averaging 15.4 in just 28 minutes over Cleveland’s first seven games.
Waiters was the No. 4 overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft after two standout years at Syracuse University.
Before gametime, coach Johnson said that he knew stopping Irving and his supporting cast, which includes Waiters, wil be necessary for a victory.
“It’s not just Kyrie,” he said. “[Dion] Waiters is a good looking young player, he can socre the ball he can shoot the ball and he’s a good passer.”
Johnson also discussed Daniel Gibson and Tristan Thompson as guys that need to be kept in check, as well. “Gibson runs all over the place, he makes threes,” he said. “If’ we’re not ready to put on our hard hat with Thompson and [Anderson] Varejao then we’re in trouble. The worst thing we can do is give this team second shots.”
Wallace, Brooks remain out
Sprained left ankles continue to be a problem for both Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks as both have been ruled out for tonight’s game.
Wallace was injured with 27.6 seconds to go in the opener against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 3 and has not played since. Wallace has not practiced fully since the injury, but did participate in practice for the first time since the injury on Monday.
Wallace has not been ruled for Thursday against the Celtics, but a more likely scenario might see Wallace make his return Sunday evening when the Nets travel to Northern California to battle the Sacramento Kings.
As for Brooks, tonight will mark his third straight missed game after he sprained his ankle during Friday morning’s shootaround in Orlando. Brooks went through non-contact drills in practice on Monday, so his conditioning is improving.
All five starters on All-Star ballot
The NBA released its All-Star Game ballot late Tuesday afternoon and all five starters, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez are on it.
The All-Star ballot lists 120 players – 60 each from the Eastern and Western conferences – with 36 forwards and 24 guards from each conference. Voters select three forwards and two guards from each conference. Previously, the ballot featured three positions with fans picking two guards, two forwards and a center.
Williams is a three-time All-Star, having made it with the Nets last season and the Utah Jazz in 2010 and 2011. Johnson has made six consecutive All-Star Game appearance, all with the Atlanta Hawks, while Wallace became the first Charlotte Bobcat to be named an All-Star in 2010.
Neither Humphries, nor Lopez has been named to an All-Star team.
Protecting Home Court
Avery Johnson has spent significant time talking about the advantage that playing in Barclays Center gives the Nets and he’s given a lot of credit to the fans. He knows, however, that opposing team will come into Brooklyn looking to steal a victory on the NBA’s newest stage. “That’s something that we’re really thinking about,” he said. “We think teams are gonna come in and give us their best effort and we are not on a level where we can take anything or anyone for granted right now. We’re gonna have to play well.”
And as far as where he thinks his team is right now? “We still have some work to do,” the coach said. “I think I’ll know more after 10 games.”
The Nets will tip off their sixth game tonight where they’ll try to earn their third consecutive victory.
Check back here afterward for your SNYNets.com Rapid Recap.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA.