With their regular season fate set, the Brooklyn Nets (47-33) return home for a meaningless two game homestand to finish the season, with the first game tonight against the Washington Wizards (29-51). Brooklyn lost yesterday afternoon in Toronto, which assured that the Nets will be the 4-seed in the eastern conference and host either Atlanta or Chicago in the first round. Expect them to rest many of their key players tonight. The Wizards can’t wait for the season to end. They have lost 4 games in a row and have the second worst road record in the NBA at 7-32. They are in full tanking mode.
Because the Nets have a couple of minor injuries and many players are simply tired, don’t expect to see much of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, and Brook Lopez tonight. Although many of them might start the game, I would be surprised to see any of them play more than 30 minutes tonight. Instead, expect to see lots of Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Andray Blatche, and Tyshawn Taylor. Even this “B” team might be more than enough to beat the Wizards.
The more important game Nets fans should be watching tonight is Bulls at Magic, which starts at 7 pm eastern. With a win, the Bulls will get back with a 1/2 game of Atlanta for the 5-seed in the east. Each team has 2 games remaining, but Atlanta is off tonight.
Injuries: Expect many Nets to not play or play limited minutes. Gerald Wallace is probably still out. It is still unknown who else will sit out, but expect lots of minutes from young players like Marshon Brooks and Tyshawn Taylor. For Washington, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, and Martell Webster are all out.
Deron Williams vs. John Wall. Advantage: Williams
John Wall might have a huge game tonight, especially if Deron Williams doesn’t play or plays limited minutes. He has been on fire recently and has scored over 30 points in 4 of his past 11 games. Williams has also been great recently, including yesterday in Toronto, but this is a meaningless game for him and the Nets.
Joe Johnson vs. Garrett Temple. Advantage: Johnson
Temple has started for Washington for a good part of this season, but is still averaging under 5 ppg. Johnson had an off night last night and looks like he can use some rest before the playoffs.
Keith Bogans vs. Cartier Martin. Advantage: Uhhh
Martin got his first start of the season in Washington’s last game and scored only 6 points in 37 minutes. Bogans finally scored yesterday, but was only 2-7 from 3. Because Bogans is a veteran, I don’t expect him to play very much in this game. The Nets want to rest him so he is fresh for the playoffs.
Reggie Evans vs. Nene. Advantage: Nene
Nene has caused matchup problems for the Nets in the past and that will likely be the case again tonight. He is a pretty good shooter for a guy who is nearly 7 feet tall and he is tricky on the inside too.
Brook Lopez vs. Emeka Okafor. Advantage: Lopez
Lopez did not play very well last night in Toronto and who knows how many minutes he will be given tonight. Probably not much more than 20. Okafor has scored and rebounded in single figures over his last 5 games.
Prediction: Nets 93, Wizards 91.
The Wizards are a pretty depressed team and can’t wait for the season to end. Also, they are awful on the road. I think the Nets B team will be good enough to give Brooklyn its 48th win of the season.