A new era in Brooklyn is officially underway.
The time for talk is over and the spotlight for the Brooklyn Nets shifts to their 2019-20 regular season.
Expectations for the Nets are high after reaching the playoffs last season for the first time since 2015. The borough of Brooklyn is now an NBA destination.
The Nets didn’t just dip their toe in the free agent pool this past summer, they dove in head first. Their splash was felt throughout the league with the additions of superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Fans will need to remain patient for Durant as he continues his injury rehabilitation. Irving, however, is ready to roll and show Brooklyn what he brings to the table.
The table was set for an exciting night to open the season and Irving didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, the end result wasn’t a happy one as the Nets dropped their season opener to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 127-126, in overtime at Barclays Center, Wednesday night.
Irving showed why he’s one of the league’s best with a 25-point performance in the first half. When he wasn’t knocking down jumpers or dazzling the crowd with his handle, he was attacking the basket. Irving finished with 50 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
Yes, that’s right. 50 points. If that number seems foreign for fans of the Nets, it’s because it is. The last Net to drop 50 was when Deron Williams put 57 on the scoreboard against Charlotte in 2012. Irving’s 50 set an NBA record for the most points in a debut with any team.
The night appeared to be heading towards a storybook finish for Irving. The West Orange, New Jersey native grew up watching the Nets when they played across the river. He did all he could to help put Brooklyn in a position to steal one from the young Timberwolves.
Brooklyn had scratched and clawed to get back in the game after falling behind early to Minnesota, despite the efforts of Irving. The supporting cast eventually showed up in the second half to spark an offensive push which helped secure a five-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Minnesota, led by Karl Anthony-Towns all night, evened the score at 115. Irving, who’d hit a go-ahead three-pointer a couple of minutes earlier, drove the lane and hit Jarrett Allen for a potential go-ahead basket. But Allen was fouled and missed both free throws which sent the game into overtime.
Irving, however, looked determined to close the show. In what looked like a glimpse into how the Nets will now look when it’s winning time, the team cleared it out for Irving in the final seconds. But after losing, and then regaining, his balance, Irving was unable to knock down a jumper at the buzzer.
It was a tough ending to an electric night which Nets’ fans have been waiting for.
At the start of the night, Durant was introduced first and Irving came out last. The crowd welcomed both to Brooklyn with an ovation only reserved for superstars and franchise players.
Head coach Kenny Atkinson is known for his attention to detail and he’ll have his staff pick apart what went wrong. The performance of his new point guard, from West Orange, New Jersey, won’t be on that list.