After a rough loss to the Lakers last night, the Brooklyn Nets (28-20) hit the road again tonight, this time against the Detroit Pistons (18-31). The Nets are only 2-4 in their past 6 games after the Lakers loss and are playing their worst basketball since P.J. Carlesimo has taken over. Even after trading for Jose Calderon, the Pistons are still 10th place in the east and 7 games behind Boston for 8th place. Their playoff chances are very slim. They have lost 6 of their past 8 games.
The big news in Detroit is the acquisition of Jose Calderon who they traded for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye. So far, Calderon has only played in one game, a loss, and is still adjusting to his new surroundings in Detroit. This will be his fourth game against Brooklyn this year; with Toronto, he was 0-3.
This is an important game for Brooklyn. They have a difficult schedule the rest of the way before the all-star break and this is a winnable game. They also don’t want to go 0-2 on this back-to-back. The Nets have already fallen 4 games behind the Knicks during this recent losing spell. They don’t want to fall any farther behind if they want a chance at winning the Atlantic Division.
Injuries: For the Nets, Jerry Stackhouse and Toko Shengelia will probably be inactive. Detroit will be without Corey Maggette, who has not played since mid-December. Both teams are healthy.
Deron Williams vs. Jose Calderon. Advantage: Williams
The Pistons recently acquired Calderon in part of the Rudy Gay trade and I think he is a great fit for their team with two good big men in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Luckily, this will only be his second game with Detroit since getting traded so the team probably will not have developed the chemistry they need yet. Still, Calderon is capable of scoring too and he is never easy to play against. Additionally, the Pistons have Will Bynum as back-up point guard and he creates a bad matchup for Brooklyn. He is a small, quick player who is crafty around the rim. Deron Williams had a very bad game last night against one of the weakest defenders in the NBA, Steve Nash. He was not aggressive at all and was not looking for his shot. His offense has definitely been concerning this year.
Joe Johnson vs. Brandon Knight. Advantage: Johnson
Johnson was quiet last night too and barely even scored 10 points. Hopefully he will be able to score more tonight against a young, second-year player, Brandon Knight. Knight is averaging 14 points and 4 assists this year but will be moving to shooting guard now that Calderon has come in. Johnson will have another size advantage tonight and hopefully he will take advantage of that.
Gerald Wallace vs. Kyle Singler. Advantage: Wallace
Singler, a rookie, has surprisingly been a starter all year for Detroit. In 28 minutes, he is only averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds per game, so he hasn’t been that effective. Wallace played pretty good defense on Kobe Bryant last night until the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter where Kobe had a humungous dunk and willed the Lakers to the win. Wallace will clearly have a much easier matchup tonight against Singler.
Reggie Evans vs. Jason Maxiell. Advantage: Maxiell
Maxiell is having one of the best years of his NBA career. Still, he is only averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds per game. However, Andre Drummond will also play big minutes for Detroit and he is a very bad matchup for the Nets. They don’t have a player who can guard him. He is tall and athletic and is a great rebounder. Reggie Evans will have trouble boxing him out, especially when he soars in for offensive rebound dunks and tip-ins.
Brook Lopez vs. Greg Monroe. Advantage: Lopez
Brook Lopez gave the Nets their only offense last night when he had his first 30-point game in a long time. He has quickly become the Nets’ most consistent offensive player this year. The problem recently is that he has not gotten much help. Expect him to be near another 20-10 game tonight. Monroe is a nice player and he is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds this season. Both he and Lopez play at a slow pace so this should be a fair and competitive matchup.
Prediction: Pistons 101, Nets 90.
The Pistons are not as bad this year as they have been recently and they will beat a team that doesn’t play with a great effort. Although the Nets are better than Detroit on paper, this will be the second game of a back-to-back on the road for Brooklyn and they have been very bad in those situations this year. The Nets haven’t played well recently and although they will be competitive in this game, they will not have the energy to win in the fourth quarter.