Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.comBROOKLYN, N.Y. — On Sunday, the Brooklyn Nets held their sixth day of training camp, but this Sunday was a special one. For the first time, they held practice at Barclays Center. According to coach Johnson, this is the first, but won't be the last.
Here are notes from Day Six of Training Camp.
On media day, Avery Johnson said that his goal was for the Nets to be a Top-10 defensive team this season. After practice this morning, Joe Johnson said that the Nets were shooting for more than 50 wins.
In order for either of those two hopes to become a reality, the Nets will need to focus on the defensive end. Obviously, coach Johnson knows that and is instilling that type of focus in his players.
For the final 15 minutes of practice, the Nets focused exclusively on defensive rotations. Four players spread around the perimeter and Deron Wiliams and MarShon Brooks broke traps and penetrated into the paint. The assignment of the defense? Trap the penetrating ball handler and rotate to recover on cross-court passes that find an open perimeter shooter.
During the drill, coach Johnson was animated and adamant. "Let's Go! We're not trying to shoot the ball!," he said. The drill seemed to help the offensive unit with ball handling, decision making, and passing... But it was obvious that the focus was on the defensive end.
"We played a lot of defense today," coach Johnson said. "We gotta make sure we're in good condition."
Nets Want to Push The Ball
One of the strengths of Joe Johnson is the ability to pull up and shoot off the dribble, and those opportunities will present themselves if the Nets can get out in transition. If Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez can help the Nets control the defensive glass and make crisp outlets, it will open things up for their offense.
At least, that's the way Avery Johnson sees it. At this point, though, he's not satisfied with where his team is.
"We're still not playing at a quick enough pace," he said after practice. "They'll see that tomorrow when we watch tape."
Johnson probably realizes that that in order for the Nets to maximize their talent, they need to be able to push the pace as well as execute in a half-court set. Both Williams and Lopez are above average half-court players, but if the Nets don't get out in transition, they'll allow opposing defenses to lock them down.
Coach Johnson wants his team to sprint. They ran a lot of 10-second drills today, and will continue to do so.
"We still have a tendency to walk the ball up the floor too much," he said. "And Deron and C.J. [Watson], they're quick enough to get the ball up and get us some easy baskets."
Tyshawn Taylor Still Out. Stackhouse Is, Too
Today, Tyshawn Taylor was conspicuous by his absence. As of right now, he's still considered day-to-day, but he hasn't been able to participate in a full practice. Unfortunately for the Nets, Jerry Stackhouse was forced to sit out today, as well.
According to Johnson, the injuries aren't serious. He even joked and said that Stackhouse was suffering from a few issues, but they were all "just because he's old."
One thing the Nets aren't joking about, though, is their strength and conditioning regimen. The team has added yoga to its arsenal, with the plan to keep the team as healthy as possible. It makes perfect sense considering their roster was decimated by injuries last season.
"We've taken a lot of precautions this summer and we've really broadened our strength and conditioning program," Johnson said after practice. "The players have really taken to [yoga]... we're going to make sure we keep [their] cores strong and keep them flexible."
Two-A-Days Might Be Over
Tomorrow, the team will have their normal practice, but the entire unit will not participate in the evening session. Instead, a smaller group of players will be called back in. "We're going to have everyone practice in the morning, and we're going to have a selected smaller group of five or six guys come back in the evening," said Johnson.
When asked if that was due to the smaller group needing additional work, Johnson wouldn't elaborate. "It's just a coach's decision," he said with a smile.
The Nets will practice tomorrow at the PNY Center in East Rutherford, but coach Johnson said that they will probably practice at Barclays Center at least two more times before the regular season begins.
The Nets used the practice court that's visible from the street. We'll discuss that a bit more in the near future...
Moke Hamilton is the Executive Editor of SNYNets.com. Follow @SNYNets on Twitter for the latest on the Brooklyn Nets.