We’re starting to approach panic time in Brooklyn as the Nets (2-5) still have yet to win a road game this year after losing badly in Sacramento on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns (5-3) have been the Sixers of the west so far as one of the surprise teams in the NBA. The Suns are led by their newly acquired point guard Eric Bledsoe, who has been great to start the season. Another surprising success has been Mason Plumlee’s older brother Miles, who is starting at center for the Suns.
The Suns have been great this year at home and are a perfect 4-0, while the Nets are 0-4 on the road. Coming into the year, many people believed that they would be one of the teams tanking for the draft from the very start of the season, but this team already seems to somehow have pretty good chemistry and have definitely been one of the funnest teams to watch so far.
On the other hand, things can’t get much worse for the Nets. Despite having the easiest road schedule in the NBA, they have already been blown out in 2 of their 4 road games against lottery teams. Things will only get worse if they lose tonight because the team travels to L.A. after the game for the second half of a back-to-back with the Clippers tomorrow.
Injuries: For the Nets, Andrei Kirilenko is still not with the team. Everyone else is healthy. Phoenix will be without rookie Alex Len and Emeka Okafor, who has yet to suit up for the Suns yet this year.
Deron Williams vs. Eric Bledsoe. Advantage: Bledsoe
Bledsoe is a perfect example of why Deron Williams needs to stop making excuses. Bledsoe has never even been a starter, yet he comes to Phoenix and is averaging 21 points and 7 assists per game on a roster that was picked to finish last in the west. Meanwhile, Deron Williams claims he is having trouble adjusting despite being with this franchise for more than 3 years and having a team full of hall-of-famers. Deron really needs to step up already and take some responsibility for this mess.
Joe Johnson vs. Goran Dragic. Advantage: Johnson
Dragic sprained his ankle in Phoenix’s last game, so that will be something to watch for. Phoenix does not play great defense, so if the Nets make the passes they were making at the beginning of the season, Joe should get some open looks. Phoenix also has former Net Gerald Green in its backcourt. Green has already had a couple of spectacular dunks this year.
Paul Pierce vs. PJ Tucker. Advantage: Pierce
Tucker is a tough defender, but he does not have many offensive weapons at all. Pierce has been one of the few consistent Nets on offense this season so far. Expect him to get his typical 15 points.
Kevin Garnett vs. Markieff Morris. Advantage: Morris
If you were to tell me at the beginning of the year that Markieff Morris would be better than Kevin Garnett 7 games into the season, I wouldn’t have believed you. But right now, it is clearly true. Morris, whose twin Marcus is also on the Suns, is averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds per game this year, which is a heck of a lot better than KG’s 6 ppg. He definitely still has to work on his defense and somehow only has 1 block so far this year, but seeing how Garnett has played on offense so far, it probably won’t matter.
Brook Lopez vs. Miles Plumlee. Advantage: Lopez
Mason Plumlee’s brother Miles has found a nice spot for himself early this season in Phoenix and is averaging a double-double as a starter. Last year, his rookie year in Indiana, Plumlee only played in 14 games. The key for Lopez is to play a full 48-minute game. Oftentimes he starts off great in the first quarter and then disappears. And sometimes, like on Wednesday in Sacramento, he only showed up on offense in the 4th quarter when the game was already over. Hopefully we’ll get to see a Plumlee vs. Plumlee matchup at some point.
Bold prediction: Eric Bledsoe scores 30. The Nets’ defense has been pretty awful so far this year and Bledsoe would love to have a big game against a big name team.
Score prediction: Phoenix 108, Brooklyn 96. I hate to do this, but how can anybody pick the Nets to win this game after watching Wednesday’s mess. Phoenix has looked good so far this year and they will probably win this game unless something has finally clicked with the Nets.