Coming off a big eastern conference win, the Brooklyn Nets (13-21) host the hottest team in the NBA, the first place Golden State Warriors (24-13). Despite Deron Williams missing the team’s last game, the Nets rode Joe Johnson and Mirza Teletovic to a win over Atlanta, extending their win streak to 3 games, their second 3-game win streak of the season. Golden State has won 10 games in a row now after blowing out Milwaukee last night. This will be the final game of a 7-game undefeated road trip for the Warriors and the second game of a back-to-back, so hopefully they will be tired.
Even though the Nets have not played well this year at all, they have had a couple of marquee wins over Miami, the Clippers, at Oklahoma City, and at Phoenix. If they can get a win tonight, this will be right up there with those wins. On top of that, if the Nets can win this game, they will be tied for the 8-seed in the eastern conference. That just shows you that despite how bad this team has looked for much of the season, all they need is to go on a little streak and they are right back in the mix for the playoffs.
Injuries: The big blow for the Nets is that Deron Williams is out and probably won’t play again until at least the London game next Thursday. This means that Shaun Livingston will still be starting. Golden State will be without Jermaine O’Neal and could also be without Draymond Green.
Shaun Livingston vs. Stephen Curry. Advantage: Curry
Curry has gotten off to another fantastic start this season, averaging 23 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, and he he also stayed healthy. Livingston played very well on Monday against Jeff Teague, but it will be interesting to see if he ends up guarding Curry, who has had some big games in New York City before. I expect Alan Anderson and Joe Johnson to also get shots at guarding Curry.
Alan Anderson vs. Klay Thompson. Advantage: Thompson
The other half of the Warriors’ explosive backcourt is Klay Thompson, who is averaging 20 ppg himself while shooting 42% from 3. I liked Anderson’s defensive effort against Atlanta and he will need to play that well again for the Nets to have a chance tonight.
Joe Johnson vs. Andre Iguodala. Advantage: Johnson
Iguodala hasn’t had a great offensive year, averaging only 10 ppg, but even he is shooting a ridiculous 46% from 3. He has also been one of Golden State’s go-to players in clutch situations and has had a number of buzzer beaters already this year. Joe Johnson snapped out of a slump in his last game despite taking some questionable shots in the fourth quarter. Hopefully the Nets can get 20+ from him again tonight.
Paul Pierce vs. David Lee. Advantage: Lee
David Lee has been close to a 20-10 guy for most of his career and that is no different this year. He is coming off an impressive 22 and 18 game last night in Milwaukee and he has scored at least 17 points in 14 straight games. Pierce will definitely be challenged to keep him off the glass tonight. Perhaps Jason Kidd will start Mirza Teletovic instead of Alan Anderson to provide a bigger body in the starting lineup to box out Lee.
Kevin Garnett vs. Andrew Bogut. Advantage: Bogut
Bogut is the defensive anchor of the Warriors and for the first time in a long time, he is finally healthy. However, the Warriors do not have much depth at center and power forward behind Bogut and Lee, so perhaps the Nets can take advantage when Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans, and Mason Plumlee are in the game. Garnett had 10 rebounds on Monday night, the first time he has had double-digit rebounds OR points in a while.
Bold prediction: Andray Blatche re-emerges as one of the Nets’ bench players tonight against a below average Warriors bench.
Score prediction: Warriors 103, Nets 101. The Nets will NOT get blown out tonight. Even though the Warriors have won 10 in a row, the Nets are playing pretty well, even without Deron Williams. I think they keep it close, but the Warriors pull out a tough win.