The only good comp for the way the Brooklyn Nets looked on opening night might be…
The Golden State Warriors. The 2014-19 version — the three-time champs who were an unstoppable offensive force.
It’s far too early to talk titles in Brooklyn, but the Nets — and specifically Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — dominated the Warriors and the game from the opening tip Tuesday. By the time of the night’s first timeout, less than five minutes into the new NBA season, the score was Kevin Durant 10, Golden State 8. Durant had scored on a dunk after driving baseline, on a jumper after creating space off the dribble for his midrange game, and by hitting a pull-up three over a defender.
He looked every bit the Kevin Durant of old, the smoothest scorer the game may have ever seen — and he wasn’t even Brooklyn’s leading scorer in the first quarter. Kyrie Irving had 17 points in the first 10 minutes. After one quarter the score was Durant/Irving 27, Golden State 25. Throw in the other Nets players and it was 40-25 Brooklyn — their ball movement and spacing was impressive (especially for the first game of the season).
This was a blowout game that ended with a 125-99 Nets’ win. The kind of game that could have turned Chris Webber saying “garbage time” on the broadcast into a drinking game.
Durant finished with 22 points, Irving 26, and new coach Steve Nash was able to keep their minutes down to 25 each.
Be careful reading too much into one early season game, there is a long way to go and Durant has to show he can stay healthy. Also, this game may have been less about Brooklyn being elite and more about the Warriors having issues.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 20 points on 7-of-21 shooting and looked close to his vintage self — he drew the defense to him and still made plays, dishing out 10 assists. The challenge is that without Klay Thompson or Draymond Green — or, for that matter, high IQ players such as Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston — nobody knew how to take advantage of the space Curry created for them.
The Warriors also just could not hit shots — Andrew Wiggins was 4-of-16 (and had some painful defensive lapses), while Kelly Oubre Jr. shot 3-of-13. It was surprising Curry had 10 assists because it didn’t seem any Golden State players were finishing his passes.
The Warriors got a solid game from rookie No. 2 pick James Wiseman — 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six rebounds — but he also looked like a rookie at points, especially when it came to defensive recognition. Still, it was a strong first outing.
Carris LeVert added 20 for Brooklyn.
The Nets will face the Celtics on Christmas Day, while the Warriors will look to bounce back against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks earlier on the Christmas slate.