After suffering one of their worst losses of the season last night in Memphis, the Brooklyn Nets (26-17) will finish up their 4-game road trip tonight against the Houston Rockets (23-22). The Nets are currently 2-1 on their road trip with wins over Manhattan and Minnesota before losing last night. Houston has won 2 of their last 3 games after losing 7 in a row before that. The Rockets won last night against the New Orleans soon-to-be Pelicans. Houston is in 8th place in the western conference while Brooklyn is in 4th in the east.
The Rockets are the youngest, fastest team in the NBA, which could cause lots of problems for the slow-tempo, half court offense of Brooklyn. The Rockets lead the NBA in fast break points, averaging almost 19 per game. The Nets typically play poorly against teams with explosive fast breaks. Last night in Memphis they were beaten by a few fast breaks and last week in Atlanta they were unable to contain Jeff Teague and Devin Harris, two fast break point guards. Houston also takes (and makes) lots of 3’s and it is important to cover their shooters. The Rockets’ big issue is turnovers. They are last in the NBA in the category and are often very careless with the basketball. Brooklyn will need to take advantage of these mistakes to win this game.
Injuries: For Brooklyn, Deron Williams banged his knee on a Grizzlies player in the third quarter of the game last night but he is still expected to play. Houston has no significant injuries.
Deron Williams vs. Jeremy Lin. Advantage: Williams
Jeremy Lin has been a disappointment for Houston this season. He is not the magical Jeremy Lin that played in Manhattan last year and is only averaging 12 points and 6 assists per game. He is also only shooting 28% from 3 and is averaging 3 turnovers per game. However, if Deron Williams plays slow because of his knee and the fact that he is probably tired, Lin could have a nice game because he is probably quicker than Deron.
Joe Johnson vs. James Harden. Advantage: Harden
There is no question that Harden is having an all-star year, averaing 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. But still, he has really done everything offensively for this team. He is taking 18 shots per game, among the leaders in the league, and is averaing 4 turnovers per game, #1 in the NBA. The keys to stopping Harden will be forcing turnovers and not fouling him. He is averaging 10 free throw attempts per game and is shooting them at over 85%. Joe Johnson had a poor game last night and would like a bounce back game.
Gerald Wallace vs. Chandler Parsons. Advantage: Parsons
Parsons was a second round pick two years ago and has played surprisingly well for Houston this year, averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds per game. He is a good 3-point shooter and is also pretty tall. He won’t be a very easy matchup for Gerald Wallace, who has played pretty poorly in the month of January. The Nets had been winning, so I haven’t been complaining much, but Wallace needs to get out of this slump now.
Reggie Evans vs. Patrick Patterson. Advantage: Evans
Patterson is one of the worst rebounding power forwards in the league, getting only 5 rpg. However, he is not a terrible offensive player and is averaging 11 ppg while shooting 36% from 3. This is another one of those games where Reggie Evans can easily grab 15 or 20 rebounds because of how many missed shots there will be.
Brook Lopez vs. Omer Asik. Advantage: Lopez
Asik is having a career year, averaging 10 points and 11 rebounds per game. He is also a good defensive player and may cause a few problems for Brook Lopez, who got outplayed by Marc Gasol last night.
Prediction: Rockets 109, Nets 98.
This will be the second night of a back-to-back for Brooklyn and I expect them to look tired against the team with the fastest pace in the NBA. This was a poor matchup for Brooklyn to begin with and being tired won’t help. The Nets will not be able to win this game.