The Brooklyn Nets open up the preseason Wednesday night against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center, giving second-year center Jarrett Allen a matchup against physical 6-foot-11, 250-pound center Enes Kanter.
It will be the first of two matchups against the Knicks and Kanter in the preseason, with Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas on tap in between. Drummond and Valanciunas each have at least 30 pounds on the 20-year-old Allen, currently listed at the same 234 pounds as last season.
“I think going right into playing against some big people, playing against some big bodies, it’s going to show what I did all last year and what’s coming for me in the coming years,” said Allen. “It’s just a good way to start it off.”
Allen finished off his rookie year in a big way, starting the last 31 games he played and averaging 9.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 63.7 percent after Jan. 1.
The first test for his second season began on the court at HSS Training Center, against new teammate Ed Davis. The 6-foot-10, ninth-year veteran is a relentless rebounder who has been a strong opponent for Allen during training camp.
“He’s getting it every day in practice with Ed Davis,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “I know Ed Davis isn’t 7-2, but he’s a physical, physical player. We keep saying how great it’s going to be playing against Ed every day. He’s getting great preparation for playing against these big, strong guys.”
“If he gets offensive rebounds, coach is going to be yelling, and you don’t want coach yelling,” said Allen. “It’s my job to keep him off the glass.”
DINWIDDIE ON DAVIS
Speaking of Ed Davis, he’s been teamed up regularly with Spencer Dinwiddie in practice units, and Dinwiddie echoed the positive vibes on the veteran big man who was acquired in free agency over the summer.
“It’s just the overall physicality and presence and veteran IQ,” said Dinwiddie. “He just knows what to do, knows where to be, knows how to play the game. Just does his job. I think in any work setting, there’s always those people that just do their job. You can count on them to be very reliable, and it helps the flow of what you’re doing.”
In addition to his rebounding, Davis has always been known as a solid operator in pick and roll situations, and the point guard Dinwiddie has developed a quick and easy chemistry with the center.
“Ed’s been playing really great,” said Dinwiddie. “He sets great screens. Like I said, he does his job. He’s great catching it and finishing, catching it and making the extra pass to a 3-point shooter such as Joe (Harris) or Jared (Dudley). Rolls hard, obviously. Just really adept at knowing what time to screen, where to screen, how to screen, all those things. He’s just a really, really smart basketball mind.”
After a week of sessions at HSS Training Center, the Nets have four preseason games in 10 days starting Wednesday night. They’ll wrap up their preseason schedule with a return game against the Knicks on Friday, October 12.
“Still in training camp mode,” said coach Kenny Atkinson after Tuesday morning’s practice. “Even though we have an exhibition game tomorrow, we still practiced like normal. Normally if it was the regular season we’d go really light. But today we went just a normal practice. Good. I think guys are in a good spot. Pleased so far with how we’ve prepared for these preseason games coming up. Again, it’s just going to be great to play against other guys and then get some feedback to where we are.”
Atkinson said he hadn’t settled on a starting lineup yet, and is focusing on the basics for Wednesday night.
“Just our Nets principles on both sides of the ball,” said Atkinson. “Understanding what we’re doing. Making sure our fundamentals are in place, our principles are in place. I don’t think first exhibition it’s time to try out crazy stuff. Just keep pounding the rock, keep improving at the things we’re emphasizing.”
AGAINST THE KNICKS
The Knicks opened their preseason schedule with a 124-121 win against the Washington Wizards on Monday night. Rookie Kevin Knox, the ninth overall pick in June’s NBA Draft, had 13 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. Four other returning players — Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Enes Kanter, and Lance Thomas — joined Knox in the starting lineup.