The Brooklyn Nets (9-15) have won 4 of their past 5 games heading into a home matchup with a team that has lost 4 of their past 5 games, the Washington Wizards (10-13). The Nets are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 36-point rout of the Sixers at home. Meanwhile, the Wizards also won in New York City on Monday, defeating the Knicks on a game winning layup by Bradley Beal with 7 seconds remaining. However, before that game they had lost 4 in a row.
The Wizards have already beaten the Nets this season in November in overtime. That game was the start of bad things for the Nets, who were in a month-long slump following that loss. However, the Nets have a much different team now, with the biggest difference being that Deron Williams is actually healthy.
Injuries: For the Wizards, Al Harrington, who played well against the Nets in the teams’ first meeting this year, is out. Nene is also a game-time decision with a foot injury. Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry are still out for the Nets and are targeting a Christmas return. Brook Lopez is probable even though he missed Monday’s game.
Deron Williams vs. John Wall. Advantage: Williams
Wall has been playing very well this season, but I give Williams the advantage here because of how he’s been playing lately. He is coming off one of his best games where he had a season high 13 assists. His ankles finally look healthy for the first time this year, and if he can stay healthy, the Nets should be one of the best teams in the NBA.
Joe Johnson vs. Bradley Beal. Advantage: Johnson
Joe Johnson is coming off a career game where he had a historic third quarter. However, Bradley Beal is also coming off a good game where he had a game winner at Madison Square Garden. He scored 21 points in that game, his first since returning from a leg injury. I think both these players will play pretty well tonight.
Alan Anderson vs. Trevor Ariza. Advantage: Ariza
Ariza is having the best season of his career, averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds and also shooting a career high 41% from 3. It will be important for the Nets to leave him to help stop Washington’s drivers towards the basket. Anderson is still starting for the Nets, but I can sense that Paul Pierce is finally starting to find himself in Brooklyn. I expect him to be back in the starting lineup by the end of the month.
Kevin Garnett vs. Trevor Booker. Advantage: Garnett
Booker will probably start if Nene can’t go. Booker has scored in double figures in 3 of the past 4 games and has double-doubles in 2 of those games. Garnett had one of his better games of the season on Monday, but still only played 16 minutes because the Nets didn’t need him once the game was in hand. I wonder if Garnett will ever play 30 minutes in a game this year.
Brook Lopez vs. Marcin Gortat. Advantage: Lopez
Gortat has been in somewhat of a slump lately, but is still averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds per game. He is a pretty average starting center. I expect Lopez to play tonight, but Mirza Teletvoic will likely start if Lopez’s ankle is still bothering him.
Bold prediction: John Wall and Deron Williams each score 25 points. Both are healthy and neither is great on defense.
Score prediction: Nets 105, Wizards 96. The Nets are playing their best basketball of the season while the Wizards have lost 4 of their last 5 games. The Nets are at home and this is a game they should win.