Kevin Garnett already helping Brook Lopez, Nets on defense

Kevin Garnett, right, is already helping Brook Lopez out on defense. Credit: Getty Images
Kevin Garnett, right, is already helping Brook Lopez out on defense.
Credit: Getty Images

Kevin Garnett has several ways of getting a competitive advantage and it often involves talking.

It includes his commentary on the court to teammates consisting of reading what plays are coming — a bit of gamesmanship which can irk opponents but also gives his team an extra second or two to set their defense.

The Nets, especially former coach Avery Johnson, seemed bemused by it the first time they took on Garnett and the Celtics last season, going as far as to say they wished Garnett would keep his mouth shut.

This time around, the Nets will not have to tell Garnett to silence himself. Instead they will have his abilities to read situations as they unfold to their advantage.

The Nets have had that edge for nearly three months since acquiring him from the Celtics on July 12 but only now it is starting to help.

Their training camp scrimmages at Duke were often competitive and talkative sessions and at their first full practice back in East Rutherford, N.J. Monday afternoon, that seemed continued.

Among those who Garnett’s foreshadowing should help is center Brook Lopez. Lopez became a first-time All Star last season primarily due to his offense while his defensive game remains what coaches and players like to term a “work in progress.”

“I definitely noticed it last year,” Lopez said. “It makes us so much of a better defensive team. We have time to set up. It helps us.”

Part of that work in progress is reading situations and figuring out how he should properly rotate defensively.

“He’s a constant talker on the floor and it’s not necessarily at me,” Lopez said. “A lot of the situations it helps. He’s talking through the team defense in a spot where he needs to be, letting me know he has my back and I have his back vice versa. It’s good to have that chirping in your ear because it gets you to talk on the court as well.”

“That was big point down at Duke trying to get the guys closer together, being able to communicate and I think we accomplished that but also it carried over to here,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “But these guys got to communicate, relay plays both offensively and defensively and hopefully come the end of October, they’ll be as close as we want them to be.”

Training camp and preseason practices are about installing a defensive and offensive game plan. It is also about a team with new pieces coming together and for the Nets they plan on using Garnett’s know-how after six years of running their offense against him four times a year.

“I think it was a bit more unknown last year,” Lopez said. “There were still a lot of variables this season but we’ve been through before at this point. We’ve got a lot of intelligent guys that are coming into this situation.”

The situation informally kicks off Tuesday night in Washington and formally begins Oct. 30 in Cleveland.

Terry takes contact

Jason Terry has been on the Nets since coming over from Boston in the July blockbuster deal but in his eyes it wasn’t official until he took part in full contact during practice on Monday.

Terry was more than excited to talk about it.

“Yeah, contact, so officially I’m a Brooklyn Net today, 5-on-4 scramble drill,” Terry said. “I felt great. I was out for seven consecutive minutes. I’m feeling good. The key is to keep me feeling that way.”

Terry is not going to play Tuesday after undergoing knee surgery in July but he is taking steps toward being ready for his first real game. He will continue that by taking part in his first full practice on Wednesday.

Until he steps on the court in an actual game situation, he’ll just enjoy the positive feelings he has seen from his new team.

“It’s a great vibe,” Terry said. “It’s a brotherhood. It’s what you envision when you come into a new group of guys with the veteran leadership that we have.

“The best part of it is the plane rides. I can’t wait to get on the plane right now. Usually during the season, you’re like, ‘Damn another plane trip.’ Now it’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s go on the plane man.’

Kidd ready for “coaching debut”

Kidd’s coaching debut in a game that counts will not take place until Nov. 3 in Orlando when he returns from a two-game suspension for his DWI from July 2012 in the Hamptons.

In the meantime, he’ll settle for eight preseason games and like any other NBA coach, his focus on those games will feature some different faces, some things being worked on from the playbook and what combinations seem to be effective.

“Just our principles,” Kidd said of what he hoped to see Tuesday night. “Understanding that this is the first game of preseason, minutes are going to be low and for the guys that take the floor, play offensively, play our principles and play hard.”

The different combinations aspect comes into play because Deron Williams is still recovering from a right ankle sprain and will not play. Shaun Livingston could start at the point while Tyshawn Taylor will also see some time there.

As for the days leading up to the preseason opener, Kidd talked of team bonding, which was on display when the Nets huddled at the end of practice and in unison said “All In.”

“I think it started the night I had the team dinner down at Duke,” Kidd said. “Everybody spoke and everybody kind of gave their role. It started that day and it’s a process of working at it every day to be committed to being all in.”

Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


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