Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets (11-6) will host the surprising Golden State Warriors (11-7) at Barclays Center while trying to end their short 2-game losing streak. The Nets are coming off of two losses to two of the NBA’s top teams, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors have won 4 of their last 5 games, including a 104-97 win at Detroit on Wednesday.
When these two teams met in Oakland earlier this year, the Warriors won 102-93 in one of the Nets’ weaker efforts of the year. In that game, the Nets’ defense collapsed in the third quarter where they were outscored 33-20. In the fourth, the Nets couldn’t get stops down the stretch and Golden State never let them back into the game. The Warriors had 3 players score 20+ points: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and David Lee. The Nets cannot allow that to happen again. The leading scorer for the Nets that night was Brook Lopez, but Brook will not play in the game tonight. After that loss, the Nets rallied to win 5 straight games before dropping their most recent 2.
This season, the Nets have already had three 2-game losing streaks, with two 5-game winning streaks in between. If the Nets continue that pattern, a 5-game winning streak will begin tonight.
Injuries: Brook Lopez will miss his 4th straight game tonight. There is hope that he will play on Sunday vs. Milwaukee, but in order for him to do this, he will have to be able to go through a full practice on Saturday. It is unknown if Reggie Evans will play. My guess is that he will. He missed Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma City with the flu. Golden State is still without Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush is out for the season.
Deron Williams vs. Stephen Curry. Advantage: Williams
Curry has been healthy all season, which is a large part of why Golden State is 11-7. He has averaged 19 ppg and 7 apg, very good numbers. He scored 25 points against the Nets earlier this season. Deron Williams is coming off his best offensive game of the season. He was very aggressive on offense and took lots of shots. His 3’s were also falling. I expect him to continue his aggressive style of play because the Nets’ offense scored 111 points in their last game even though they lost.
Joe Johnson vs. Klay Thompson. Advantage: Johnson
Thompson is an interesting player. He is a pretty good shooter, but he takes a whole lot of shots. He is taking over 15 shots per game this year and shooting under 40%, even though many of those shots are 3’s. This is another opportunity for Joe Johnson to have a breakout game. The Warriors’ backcourt defense is not good at all and Johnson should be able to overpower Thompson. He had a good 4th quarter against OKC on Tuesday. We’ll see if he can continue that tonight.
Gerald Wallace vs. Harrison Barnes. Advantage: Wallace
Barnes has been pretty much what the Warriors have expected from him: not great yet, but very good potential. He is averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds and has started every game this season. After guarding Lebron James and Kevin Durant the last two games, this should feel like a night off for Gerald Wallace.
Kris Humphries vs. David Lee. Advantage: Lee
Lee is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He is averaging a strong double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds per game, to go along with 4 assists. He is a complete player on offense and has a good repertoire of shots. Kris Humphries is coming off of one of his better games on Tuesday, but he will have his hands full tonight with Lee.
Andray Blatche vs. Festus Ezeli. Advantage: Blatche
The Warriors are very weak at the center position without Andrew Bogut, which means a big advantage for Blatche. I am predicting a humungous game from him. He is going up against a rookie who has never seen post moves from a player like Blatche. I think he will score 20 points tonight, maybe more. Blatche has thrived since Brook Lopez’s injury and he will have another great game tonight.
Prediction: Nets 97, Warriors 86.
The Nets will win this game pretty easily. Even though the Warriors are not a bad team, after playing the Heat and Thunder in back-to-back games, the Warriors will look as bad as the Wizards. The Nets have also had 2 days off and have only played once since last Saturday so Deron Williams and the rest of Brooklyn’s crew should be rested. Expect another home victory for the Nets.