Tonight at 7:30, the Brooklyn Nets continue their Florida swing as they head to Miami to take on the Heat. The winner of this game will take the lead as the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami is currently a half game ahead of the tied-up Nets and Knicks. The Knicks do not play tonight.
The Nets were completely outplayed by the Heat earlier this season when they lost by 30, 103-73, in Miami on November 7th. LeBron James nearly had a triple double that game, collecting 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. However, the Nets were without Gerald Wallace that game. Wallace will be matched up against James tonight and the Nets are counting on him to limit James’ damage. Dwayne Wade had 22 points on 10-14 shooting that game and Chris Bosh had a limited impact, scoring just 8 points on 2-10 shooting. Historically, Bosh has performed very well against Kris Humphries, who has struggled to keep up with Bosh’ athleticism.
Brook Lopez will be unavailable tonight as he recovers from a right foot sprain. He is expected to return on Tuesday, when the Nets host the Oklahoma City Thunder. In his place, Andray Blatche will get the start. He played pretty well against the Magic last night and managed to stay out of foul trouble. The Nets need Blatche to step up once again tonight.
Deron Williams vs. Mario Chalmers. Advantage: Williams
Needless to say, Deron Williams needs to play better tonight than he did against the Magic last night. He will need to create offense for the team and shut down Chalmers, which Williams might not do. Williams will be under the spotlight tonight.
Joe Johnson vs. Dwayne Wade. Advantage: Wade
Last time these two teams met, Wade clearly outplayed Johnson. Now that Johnson has picked up his defensive play and found his stroke, he should be a more competitive match-up for Wade than he was a month ago. Still, I expect Wade to score a lot tonight.
Gerald Wallace vs. LeBron James. Advantage: James
Tonight, Wallace will have his hands full with James. Wallace will probably score very little, which is okay. He needs to play tough defense and compete for rebounds with James. This will be a fun match-up to watch.
Kris Humphries/Andray Blatche vs. Chris Bosh. Advantage: Bosh
This is probably the toughest match-up for the Nets. Bosh is an athletic big man and the Nets have struggled against players like Bosh all season long. Bosh will be the best big man on the court tonight, but hopefully Humphries/Blatche can remain competitive.
Rashard Lewis/Ray Allen vs. Keith Bogans/Jerry Stackhouse. Advantage: Lewis/Allen
The Nets have good perimeter defense and should be able to contain Lewis and Allen. Bogans and Stackhouse might shoot well tonight and put up better numbers than their counterparts. This will also be interesting to watch.