The Brooklyn Nets just lost Brook Lopez for the entire season, but no one is feeling sorry for them. The Nets play their first game since they learned of Lopez’s season-ending broken foot injury Monday night against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
WHO FILLS IN? Nets coach Jason Kidd hadn’t told his players who would start in Lopez’s place, so he didn’t tell reporters before Monday’s morning shootaround. The likely options are Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche or Reggie Evans. Teletovic brings 3-point shooting, Blatche brings offensive versatility and Evans brings rebounding. Wonder if Paul Pierce will stick in the starting lineup to make up for the point production lost due to Lopez being out. Pierce is averaging 25.5 points on 81 percent shooting in his last two games.
TIME TO STEP UP: Deron Williams is averaging 17.8 points and 10 assists in six games since returning from a sprained ankle. Williams is likely going to have to look for his shot more with Lopez out. Joe Johnson is averaging 22.5 points on 54 percent shooting in his last four games. Johnson is also going to have to step up, and continue to generate some of his offense out of the post. Andrei Kirilenko (back) is out and Jason Terry (knee) is a game-time decision vs. the Pacers. Both returned to practice Monday.
SETTING THE PACE: The Pacers are 22-5 and coming off a 27-point demolition of the Boston Celtics Sunday. Former New York High School basketball phenom Lance Stephenson had his third triple-double of the season in that game. Paul George (23.9 ppg, 46.7 percent) continues to be the engine that makes Indiana go, while Danny Granger’s return only makes the Pacers that much more potent. Indiana flat-out gets after it defensively, limiting its opponents to an NBA-best 93.6 points per 100 possessions. The Pacers also are quite good on the glass, ranking third in rebound rate.