Team Records: New Jersey (19-36) at Portland (25-29)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game.
Vegas Line: Portland-8
Refs: Ed Malloy, Curtis Blair, Tony Brown.
The Skinny: The Blazers welcome Gerald Wallace back to town as they look to bounce back from a loss to Utah that was decided by three key late turnovers by Raymond Felton. Even if you want Portland to tank, you should want them to win this one as it will help drop NJ ever closer to that the fourth worst record and thus improve the potential draft pick the Blazers might get out of the Wallace trade.
Last Season: The Blazers and Nets split the season series, with each winning at home.
Projected Nets Lineup:
PF-Kris Humphries (Minnesota-8th Season) 13.4 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.3 APG.
SF-Gerald Wallace (Alabama-11th Season)-13.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.8 APG.
C-Johan Petro (France-7th Season)-4.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, .8 APG
SG-MarShon Brooks (Providence-Rookie)-12.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.1 APG.
PG-Deron Williams (Illinois-7th Season)-21.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 8.6 APG.
Player to Watch-Kris Humphries (pictured at right)-The season didn’t exactly begin auspiciously for Humphries as he was roundly booed by fans due to his comments following his sham marriage and divorce this past summer to TV star Kim Kardashian. For a while at the start of the season it appeared that Humphries was indeed the most hated player in the league. On the court, while its been a rough season for the Nets, its been a good one for Humphries. Humphries is a decent, if a bit short, power forward who has good finishing and rebounding skills. He makes up for some of his lack of physical talent with high basketball IQ. However he gets into trouble against stronger players on defense and when he falls into the trap of taking too many outside jumpers. Still, he has been perhaps the most consistent player for the Nets this season, nothing to be sneezed at.
Did You Know?: Head Coach Avery Johnson holds the highest wining percentage as a head coach in NBA history (thanks to his time in Dallas).
Song of the Day: “Follow the Dodgers” by Gladys Goodling-In honor of both the Nets impending move to Brooklyn and the first game of the MLB season (outside of Japan) Wednesday, this is old early 1950s theme song of the only major pro sports team to play in Brooklyn, the Dodgers. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder), PF Shawne Williams (Foot).
New Jersey: Out-C Brook Lopez, SF Damion James (Foot), PG Jordan Farmar (Groin), C Shelden Williams (Eye).
New Jersey’s Game:
It was all set up for the Nets. They would suck this year, get Dwight Howard. a top draft pick and keep Deron Williams. Instead the Nets will get none of these things. Dwight Howard will be in Orlando for another year, their top draft pick is likely to belong to Portland and Deron Williams will be bolting for the exit as soon as free agency begins this summer. The Nets have been forced to use an ever changing group of players as injuries and a few trades have shaken up the roster pretty dramatically. They are fundamentally a slow paced offensive team with decent efficiency, with an offensive efficiency just above 100. Defense is another story however as they are basically tied with Charlotte for the worst defense in the league. If they don’t decide to give effort, and they often don’t, they will get blown out. However, they have been trying as of late and if you aren’t careful they have enough talent to sneak up on you and make it interesting, even if they don’t actually end up winning.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. The only chance the Nets have is if Portland comes out flat like they did last week much of the game vs. New Orleans. If they come out as they have the past three games, this should be a fairly easy win.
New Jersey wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. With as bad a defense as New Jersey has, this might be a hard task but it is their only chance if they want to beat Portland.