Where: Staples Center; Los Angeles, CA
TV: YES Network
Tonight, the Nets look to extend their improbable five-game winning streak against the far-and-away toughest team they have faced during the span of that streak. Of course, that team is the newest NBA superteam, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets and Lakers were mentioned a lot together this summer as Brooklyn's most-prized potential catch, Dwight Howard, ended up being traded to LA after just a little too much wavering on the star center's end. Howard made it clear that he wanted to be a Net multiple times throughout the arduous and tortuous ordeal known as the "Dwight-mare". However, he made some mind-boggling decisions--and non-decisions--which led to his acquiring by the Lakers as part of a four-team deal that sent Andrew Bynum to Philly, Andre Iguodala to Denver, and Arron Afflalo to Orlando, along with some other pieces of course.
The Nets were so close to getting Dwight at multiple times throughout the wooing process that many with the franchise were ready to give Brooklyn a point guard-center pairing for the ages, D-Will and Dwight, but it was not meant to be. That means there will certainly be players in tonight's contest playing with a little edge on their shoulder, with a little more hustle. Like Brook Lopez, whom the Nets were ready to ship to Central Florida for Howard, or even MarShon Brooks, another rumored asset offered by Brooklyn to Orlando. And even the two main players in the scenario itself, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. D-Will had his own decision to make this summer--Dallas or Brooklyn--and he chose Brooklyn, somewhat assuming that he would have Howard to play with at Barclays Center when the season tipped in November.
Knowing the competitiveness of those two guys, they are gonna play their hearts out at the Staples Center tonight, especially D-Will, who Dwight effectively spurned when he waived the ETO (Early Termination Option) clause in his contract at last season's deadline. We have witnessed how D-Will can look really bad when he plays uninspired ball but ridiculously good when he plays with a chip on his shoulder and seems into the game. The combination of those added motivations for two of the three best players in the game (Kobe, not Brook or Pau. Don't be silly) has all the makings of a really close, competitive, and physical matchup between two revamped squads.
However, the Nets don't just have Howard to worry about. Los Angeles also has this shooting guard from Pennsylvania who's been around awhile and he's actually pretty good at shooting and basketball and stuff. He's won like a lot of NBA Championship rings and stuff. And he's the son of a former NBA player. And he was acquitted in a rape case in Colorado of all places. And his name is also the name of a kind of beef. Oh, and the Lakers also have a future Hall-of-Fame point guard (who's injured right now0 and a pretty darn good power forward/second center too. Who said that having the lockout and the new CBA would prevent superteams from forming?
In all serious though, it looks like tonight might be the night that the Nets five-game winning streak comes to an end. I know they are playing under a new coach for the first time in Mike D'Antoni, but the talent they have is just ridiculous. With the Nets' porous, to say kindly defense, I don't see how they can stop the inside and outside offensive barrage LA is gonna rain on us.
NETS- D-Will (PG), Joe Johnson (SG), Wallace (SF), Humphries (PF), Lopez (C)
LAL- Darius Morris (PG), Bryant (SG), World Peace (SF), Gasol (PF), Howard (C)
A loss would drop the Nets to a still-respectable 6-3 and a win to 7-2. I just don't want anyone to get hurt (I'm looking at you Crash).