Andray Blatche and the Nets are excited to play in front of a home crowd. Credit: Getty Images
Kevin Garnett has definitely used profanity before while trash talking or in practices, but never to describe an entire borough.
So count Garnett among the many who are curious what the reaction will be like Friday when the Nets play their first home playoff game, six days after Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri pumped up fans by yelling “F— Brooklyn,” a comment which turned into the F-bomb heard ’round the NBA playoffs.
“Very eager,” Garnett said after practice on Thursday. “[I’m] very eager to see how they respond to the ‘Eff Brooklyn,’ very eager to see how they respond to this kid [Ujiri] sitting in our arena. I don’t know if that’s going to be ... we’ll see.”
Garnett has never played a playoff game in Brooklyn after joining the team in the offseason.
The Nets will be playing a playoff game at home for the first time since May 4, 2013 when last season ended with a 99-93 loss to the Bulls in a Game 7 that prompted the move for Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Those changes were slow to take shape before evolving into a 15-game home winning streak and a season-ending 16-2 run in Brooklyn. Among those wins was a 101-97 triumph over Toronto on March 10 when Pierce hit the game-winning 3-pointer. He said that crowd was the best he had heard throughout the season.
“I expect it to be a nice, ruckus, rowdy crowd,” Pierce said. “That’s what a lot of playoff crowds are about. They’re hungry for it. They’ve been watching playoffs for about a week now, and now they get a chance to come into our home building and enjoy it and really try to give us a lift.”
Last year, home teams won 14 of 16 in Games 1 and 2. This year, Portland and Washington have taken 2-0 leads by winning on the road, while teams are just 7-9 overall at home.
“I mean, everybody’s good, too,” Garnett said of teams in the playoffs. “I think you discounted the talent and the greatness of the teams that are playing. I think the teams that are up 2-0, they’re playing really good basketball. They’re playing together.
“I’m just looking at the Houston series; LaMarcus [Aldridge] is playing great. And I look at the Atlanta series; they played really well and [Jeff] Teague is playing unbelievable. So don’t discount the teams that are winning on the road, you know. Everybody that’s in the playoffs is well deserving.”
In their NBA playoff history, the Nets have played three Game 3s at home when a series is tied. They lost the first two to Cleveland and Miami in 1993 and 2006, respectively, before beating Toronto 102-89 in 2007.
“We understand this is not going to be easy by any means,” shooting guard Joe Johnson said. “This is going to be tough. Just looking around the playoffs, a lot of teams have been losing at home. We want to be very conscious of that and really come out and set the tone early.”
Johnson on the double
Joe Johnson knows that as one of the primary post options and as the Nets’ best 3-point shooter, double teams from opposing defenses are coming.
While official statistics for passing out of double teams are not available, Johnson has acknowledged improvement in that area of his game.
“I’ve gotten a lot better,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen enough of them to kind of know where my guys will be at. And that’s another thing we went over. So I’ve gotten better over the years.”
Part of the matchup on Johnson will involve spending time near Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, getting 11 of those while Johnson and the rest of the starters were on the floor.
DeRozan and Johnson are both 6-foot-7, but Johnson is listed at about 25 pounds heavier.
“[Our defense has] been pretty good from everybody, especially as a team, we’ve made him [Johnson] take a lot of tough shots,” DeRozan said. “He’s made some tough shots and that’s how the game is going to go. We’ll live with him taking tough shots.”