Even a blowout preseason game can serve as a measuring stick for the upcoming season.
Which is exactly how the Nets viewed their 137-89 victory over Brazilian squad Sesi Franca Basquete on Friday night, utilizing the mismatch to prepare for their next two preseason contests, against the Lakers on Thursday and Saturday in China.
“I thought it was a great showing,” Joe Harris said during the Nets’ third-annual outdoor practice in Brooklyn Bridge Park. “Obviously [it was our] first game, knocking off a little bit of rust, especially early on. Different stuff, matchup wise, defensively, but the offense was pretty consistent throughout the night and we picked up the defense in the second half.”
There were a multitude of positives for the Nets to take away from the first preseason game, specifically shooting 60 percent (51-of-85) from the field and limiting their opponent to under 20 points in each quarter of the second half.
“It was great for us to be able to play against a new team, new faces,” free-agent signee Garrett Temple said. “[Franca’s] center gave us something that we actually had to adjust to early on and we were able to adjust accordingly. That was really good to see that we were able to do that on the fly.”
Nevertheless, Franca is no comparison to what the Nets will see in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers on Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai (they also play Saturday at Dayun Arena in Shenzhen). But Friday’s opener shed substantial light on areas that need improvement.
The Nets — who have a lot of new players with the offseason additions of Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant (expected to miss the season following Achilles tendon surgery) — will likely benefit from the preseason more than other NBA teams, as they try to integrate the many new faces they have onto the court.
After shooting 57.1 percent (20-of-35) from the line Friday, focusing on free throws became an immediate priority for the Nets. Temple also said the team recognized the need to practice getting around screens and harnessing the toughness to do so.
“Overall, we communicated really well,” Temple said after listing what he feels the team should focus on. “We shared the ball really well, so there was definitely more positives than negatives.”
But the trip to China won’t be just about what the Nets put on the court — it’ll be a team-bonding experience as well. There are several “team functions” planned for their stay overseas, including dinners and other activities to improve the team’s camaraderie.
“Obviously two games over there, long travel,” Harris said. “But it’s a good opportunity just for all of us to get a chance to kind of hang out.”