Sunday, November 11, 2012

Game 5 Preview: Orlando Magic (2-3) at Brooklyn Nets (2-2)

Ever since Joe Johnson was traded to the Nets this summer, he hasn't had a traditional "Joe Johnson" performance where he scores 20+ points and completely takes over a game. The Nets might not need that performance to beat the Magic, but it would certainly be nice to see.
When: 3:00 pm; Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: YES Network

The Nets were able to comfortably beat the Magic on Friday night, and this afternoon we get to see if Brooklyn can do that again, this time at home in Barclays Center. Tonight's game is the Nets' first afternoon matchup of the season and we can hope that the unconventional 3:00 pm start time doesn't mess with the positive energy and surging confidence the team most likely has after last game's romp over Orlando.

Injuries are starting to catch up to both of teams, making their rotations a bit more screwy than they would be if they were at full strength. I forgot mention to mention in my preview of the last meeting between these two that the Magic are still missing Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington, both aging but still productive offensive forwards, due to injury. Also, Jameer Nelson--who missed Friday's game with injuries to his hamstring and groin--probably won't be available to run the point for Jacque Vaughn's squad tonight, leaving the point guard duties yet again to E'Twaun Moore.

The Nets are also suffering from their own injury woes early on in this season as Gerald Wallace is still day-to-day with the ankle injury he suffered in the season opener and MarShon Brooks is a game-time decision with his own ankle ailment, suffered in Friday's shootaround. Not having Wallace's defensive presence--as already shown in two losses Brooklyn suffered in his absence--is really detrimental to the Nets' success as a team and missing Brooks' instant offense capability off the bench isn't great either. Not huge, crippling injuries to be sure, but significant enough to open a door for the lowly Magic to slip through and upset the Nets tonight.
The key is for the Nets to not be complacent and to take nothing for granted when it comes to capitalizing on the valuable games they have against probable below-.500 teams. The Magic are most likely going to finish with a winning percentage of lower than .500 and if the Nets are going to challenge for the Atlantic Division crown and potentially be an Eastern Conference contender, they need to win as many games against bad teams like the Magic as possible. There are 77 games left in the season after this afternoon's contest and even though that's a lot and makes each singular game feel less significant, each game does count very much in the standings. Any games against a team of Orlando's caliber should be a Brooklyn win; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Probable Lineups
ORL- Moore (PG), Afflalo (SG), Davis (SF), McRoberts (PF), Vucevic (C)
BKN- D-Will (PG), Johnson (SG), Bogans (SF), Humphries (PF), Lopez (C)

Final Thoughts
Nothing has really changed between these teams since their last meeting two days ago, so there isn't much else to say here. I just want to see continued intensity and consistent play from Kris Humphries as he works himself back up from a dreadful start to the season for the starting power forward. Also, I would like to see Avery play Mirza Teletovic a little more. Getting adjusted to the American style of play has clearly taken its toll on Mirza and he has been simply chucking up bricks from beyond the arc recently. But, shooters need to keep shooting and the only way for Teletovic to get himself back on track is get some more game action and what better game to see that happen than against an awful, shorthanded opponent at home in Brooklyn. 

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