The Brooklyn Nets (34-26) return to action Wednesday night after 3 days off to face the miserable Charlotte Bobcats (13-47) in North Carolina. This will be the first time this season the teams meet in Charlotte, although the Nets won an earlier matchup in Brooklyn very easily by 16 points in P.J. Carlesimo’s first game as head coach.
Charlotte is in the middle of a 7-game losing streak in which they have been outscored by an average of over 22 points per game. For the season, Charlotte has the worst record in the NBA by a whopping 3.5 games and have been outscored by an average of 10 points per game. In the eastern conference, they have the 4th worst offense in terms of ppg and #1 worst defense. In the entire NBA they have the 2nd worst offensive rating and overall worst defensive rating. Some other stats: Charlotte has the worst assist/turnover ratio in the league, Charlotte has the worst rebound rate, Charlotte has the worst total shooting %, Charlotte has the worst field goal %, etc., etc. To sum this up, the Bobcats are the worst team in the NBA and the Nets need to win this game.
Brooklyn has not been playing very well lately and have lost 4 of their past 5 games including 2 straight. Luckily, they are in a soft stretch of schedule right now. After tonight, they have games against Washington, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Detroit, before going on their longest and most difficult road trip of the season.
Injuries: The Nets should be healthy after having the last couple of days off. Joe Johnson has had some more time to recover from his heel problems and Deron Williams said at practice yesterday that his ankles are feeling better. For Charlotte, Byron Mullens only played 3 minutes in the Bobcats’ last game because of a sore knee. If he can’t play tonight, who knows who will start in his place.
Deron Williams vs. Kemba Walker. Advantage: Williams
Kemba Walker has had a nice sophomore season and his numbers are better across the board. Still, he is the best player on a very bad team and is only shooting 42% from the field, although he is averaging 17 points. Deron Williams scored 57 points the last time he was in Charlotte. Although he won’t score that many again tonight, his ankles appear to be healthier than they have been in weeks if not months and I expect him to have a very nice game against one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Don’t be shocked if he drops 30.
Joe Johnson vs. Gerald Henderson. Advantage: Johnson
Surprisingly, Henderson is putting up worse numbers this year than he did last year. He is shooting worse, scoring less, rebounding less, and assisting less than he did last year. Because of that, it is no surprise that the Bobcats were not able to find a suitor to take Henderson at the trade deadline. Joe Johnson hasn’t been great since returning from his injury, scoring only 22 points in the 2 games. But he has had lots of rest since the Nets’ last game on Saturday and hopefully he will look recovered tonight.
Gerald Wallace vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Advantage: Kidd-Gilchrist
Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t been nearly as good as the player the Bobcats were hoping to get with the second pick in last year’s draft. He is only averaging 9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in his rookie year. He still needs to improve his shooting motion a lot and definitely could have used another year at Kentucky. Still, he is one of the most athletic players in the league and he is a pretty good defender. In fact, he reminds me a bit of a much younger Gerald Wallace.
Reggie Evans vs. Byron Mullens/Jeff Adrien/Josh McRoberts. Advantage: Uhhhm
With Byron Mullens out of the lineup, the Bobcats will likely turn to either Jeff Adrien or newly acquired Josh McRoberts in the starting lineup. It is also possible that former New Jersey Net DeSagana Diop will receive some playing time. For the Nets, Reggie Evans will start although P.J. Carlesimo has hinted at lineup changes for Brooklyn, meaning either Kris Humphries or Mirza Teletovic could get more playing time. One can argue that none of these players even deserve to have a roster spot in the NBA and don’t expect any of them to do anything.
Brook Lopez vs. Bismack Biyombo. Advantage: Lopez
For a starting NBA center, Bismack Biyombo is pretty pathetic. In his second year in the league, Biyombo is only averaging 4 points and 7 rebounds per game. He is shooting just 43% from the field and 52% from the foul line. He is OK on defense, averaging 1.7 blocks per game, but most of those blocks have happened because the Bobcats’ perimeter defenders have let opposing players get into the paint very easily. Brook Lopez should score 25 points against this team and not play in the fourth quarter due to a blowout.
Prediction: Nets 104, Bobcats 82.
I will be shocked if the Nets win this game by less than 10 points. Charlotte has been the worst team in the NBA over the past couple of months and the Nets have not lost to them in their last 5 tries. Expect this to be an easy, blowout win for Brooklyn.