Team Records: Brooklyn (41-29) at Portland (33-37)
Game Info: 7:30 PM-TV on ESPN/KGW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -1.5
Refs: James Capers, Leroy Richardson, Eddie F Rush
The Skinny: The Blazers return home from a 2-3 road trip to face a Brooklyn team that is still trying to catch the Knicks for the Atlantic Division crown. It has not exactly been the smoothest season for the Nets, as they have been very inconsistent. This is the fifth game in an eight game road swing for the Nets, and they are 3-1 so far on this trip.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers hung with the Nets through three quarters but fell off in the fourth as Brooklyn’s depth wore the Blazers down.
Projected Nets Lineup:
PF-Reggie Evans (Iowa-11th Season)-3.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG, .6 APG.
SF-Gerald Wallace (Alabama-12th Season)-8.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.6 APG.
C-Brook Lopez (Stanford-5th Season)-19 PPG, 7 RPG, 1 APG
SG-Joe Johnson (Arkansas-12th Season)-16.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.6 APG.
PG-Deron Williams (Illinois-8th Season)-18.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 7.7 APG.
Player to Watch-Brook Lopez (pictured at right)-When you look at Brook Lopez you see everything you want in an NBA center, height, reasonable size and good instincts. However, Lopez, had for a number of reasons, not least among them injuries, been unable to put together a complete season so far. His rebounding is still a bit below where it should be, although its way up from the last few years and his defense is bad beyond his shot blocking but he was an allstar for a reason this year. Lopez, when he’s on, is a very good offensive player and is a key reasons why the Nets hope to make a playoff run this year.
Did You Know?: The Nets next road win this season will be their 20th, which will tie their team record for road wins in a season.
Song of the Day: “Brooklyn’s Finest” by Jay Z featuring Notorious BIG-Jay Z is, of course, a minority owner of the Nets and so it makes sense to use one of his best songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-SF Victor Claver (Ankle), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Illness).
Brooklyn: Questionable-SG Joe Johnson (Quad).
Re-Evaluating Brooklyn: The Right Mix?
The Nets made a huge splash this offseason by trading for Joe Johnson and resigning Gerald Wallace, among other notable moves. While the predictions were that this Nets squad might well contend in the east, the reality has been less successful. Head coach Avery Johnson was fired earlier this season and although interim coach, and former Blazers head coach, PJ Carlesimo has been more successful, the Nets have been a very average team for the most part. With their relatively bad cap situation the next few years, it doesn’t look like it is going to get better either. Brooklyn will make the playoffs and might even win a series but any more that that is extremely unlikely.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. The Nets cannot keep up if the Blazers are hot. If they can top the century mark, Portland should bounce back with a win.
Brooklyn wins if: They limit Portland’s 3 point effectiveness. Portland wins when they make 3 pointers, when they don’t it can ugly. If the Nets can make Portland ineffective from deep, they will win.