It may have seemed like it would never get here, but the New Jersey Nets will open the regular season Monday night in the nation's capital against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. It's not just the beginning of a shortened 66-game season, but also the final one spent in New Jersey before the Nets move to Brooklyn.
Head coach Avery Johnson starts his second season in New Jersey with superstar Deron Williams running the show after a late season trade last year, but has a lot of question marks throughout his roster. Center Brook Lopez fractured his foot in the Nets final preseason game and will miss six-to-eight weeks. In his spot will be the recently acquired Mehmet Okur, who was able to play just 13 games last year due to injuries.
Anthony Morrow, Damion James and Kris Humphries will round out the Nets starting five, but that could all change in the near future.
We will get our first look at rookie MarShon Brooks and free agent additions Shawne Williams and DeShawn Stevenson. It will be interesting to see if the feel good story from the abbreviated training camp, rookie Dennis Horner, will be a part of Johnson's rotation early on.
Waiting for the Nets will a team with plenty of questions of their own in the Washington Wizards. Second-year point guard John Wall leads the home team, but there are doubts about where his support is coming from. Washington won just 23 games last season and are expected to struggle once again, though Rashard Lewis and the emerging Nick Young should make the Wizards a tough team to game plan for on offense.
The Nets dropped two of three to the Wizards last season, though only one of those matchups was while Williams was running the point for New Jersey. Avery Johnson's crew has cropped eight of 10 overall to the Wizards, including the last four in Washington.
Including Monday's game, the Nets will play six times in eight days, giving a good early indication of how they will handle this unique sprint of a season.
Next up for the Nets is their final home opener in New Jersey Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks.