|We have a wonderful point guard battle tonight. Which one wins will probably determine the game's outcome.|
Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY
TV: YES Network
The Nets look to shake off their brutal end to their annual West Coast Thanksgiving road trip by beating another Western Conference foe tonight at Barclays Center. The Clippers will be the fourth-straight California team the Nets will be playing, after beating the Kings on Sunday night and consequently falling to the Lakers and Warriors on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Wednesday's loss was especially tough for Brooklyn as they had a 13-point first half lead squandered as Golden State took advantage of the absence of Gerald Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse--and of the Nets' terrible perimeter defense--to score 61 points in the second half to control the game and eventually win it.
Los Angeles also had a tough loss on Wednesday night, losing to the Thunder in an overtime affair in Oklahoma City. Down 10 points at half, the Clippers tied the game, sending it into overtime after outscoring the Thunder by a score of 33-26 in the fourth quarter. A few quick three-pointers by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook early in the extra period got OKC off to a great start, and netted them a four-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. The defeat ended the Clippers' six-game winning streak and dropped their record to 8-3 on the year.
The Clippers are one of the deeper teams in the NBA, thus presenting some serious matchup problems for the Nets, a team that was blessed with great news earlier today that Gerald Wallace would return to the lineup tonight and has no playing time restrictions. As I have noted plenty so far, the Nets are frankly disgraceful on defense when Gerald isn't playing, and against a very talented offensive team like the Clippers, they would certainly get punished for that ineptitude. Granted, just getting Gerald back doesn't solve all their problems defensively, but it helps a lot. Jerry Stackhouse, who didn't play in Wednesday's loss either, looks like he might be able to go tonight because he's not listed on the official injury report.
Obviously, when people see that the Clippers and Nets are playing each other, they immediately think of the great point guard battle that is probable to ensue between Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Both players are arguably two of the top-five at their position in the NBA--possibly higher due to personal preference--but played very poorly in their most recent games, each losses. Against the Thunder, Paul was horrendous from the field, making two of his 14 field goal attempts en route to a lackluster nine-point and nine-assist performance. D-Will didn't fare much better, missing eight of 12 shots against Golden State, finished with nine points as well and eight assists.
They might be not be playing great basketball right now, but this matchup of point guards is still an elite one, with the potential for a legendary game tonight if the stars align and each plays up to the level that we have seen from them in recent years. However, Los Angeles is much more than just Chris Paul, as their power forward/center combination is one of the best in the NBA, with Blake Griffin at the 4 and Deandre Jordan at the 5. Each of those guys play with reckless abandon on the court, grabbing offensive boards, scoring putbacks, swatting shots, and throwing down highlight reel-worthy dunks whenever they get a chance. Their physicality is going to be a tough match for Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries of the Nets.
LAC- Paul (PG), Green (SG), Barnes (SF), Griffin (PF), Jordan (C)
NETS- D-Will (PG), Joe Johnson (SG), Wallace (SF), Humphries (PF), Lopez (C)
I don't feel particularly comfortable about this game, considering how athletic the Clippers are and how deep they are as well, with proven scorers like Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, and Lamar Odom coming off the bench. If they are to win and snap this two-game losing streak, the entire Nets roster has to play good defense, help out their teammates when they are beat, and make the correct rotations on time. Also, good rebounding is a must against a team with Griffin and Jordan.