In what will end up being the first game of the post-Avery Johnson era in Brooklyn, interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo will make his coaching debut tonight when the Brooklyn Nets host the Charlotte Bobcats just one day after the team announced that it had fired Avery Johnson.
Here is your pregame primer.
Kris Humphries Out, Wallace Probable, Williams GTD
Kris Humphries is still recovering from his mild abdominal strain and will not be available tonight. Toko Shengelia (flu) will join Humphries on the DL while Gerald Wallace is probable with a slight hyperextension of the left knee. Deron Williams, who sat out what ended up being Johnson’s final game as head coach for the Nets, is a game-time decision. He is nursing a bruised wrist.
Kemba Walker Makes Brooklyn Debut
The Charlotte Bobcats enter tonight on a 16 game losing streak. The Bobcats were one of the surprise teams earlier in the season. They won seven of their first 12 games and have been led by sophomore point guard Kemba Walker. Walker is averaging an impressive 18.6 points per game along with 3.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists. Walker, a Bronx native, is one of the league’s faster point guards and has the ability to cause problems for the Nets perimeter defense.
Without a doubt, Walker will have a lot of friends and family Barclays tonight, so he’ll probably have an extra pep in his step. A victory tonight for the Nets will require slowing him down, first and foremost.
P.J. Offensive Schemes
It’s unrealistic to think that one shoot around will be enough for Carlesimo to make any substantial changes to the Nets offensive schemes or sets, but it will be interesting to see which players find themselves in Carlesimo’s early rotation. With Humphries out and neither Williams nor Wallace operating at 100 percent, the Nets will have to rely heavily on C.J. Watson, MarShon Brooks and even rookie Tyshawn Taylor. The order in which Carlesimo calls their numbers, though, may be telling.
Effort and Unity
Typically, after a head coaching change occurs, teams respond by playing harder. It’s a statistical truth that’s difficult to fully explain, but it’s true. In recent games—and especially at home—the Nets have lacked life both early in games and to begin third quarters. It will be interesting to see what type of effort they give in the early minutes of tonight’s game.
Also worth noting is that there is some gossip suggesting that Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse were amongst Avery Johnson’s most loyal supporters in the locker room. If true, those three may not be happy with the coaching change. That could be reflected in their play tonight.
The action tips off at 7:30 P.M. when the Nets, who have gone just 3-10 in the month of December, take on the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats have lost 16 straight and after a coaching change, this home game is as close to a “must win” as there can be in December.
Check back after the game for our rapid recap.