New Jersey Nets (7-57, 4-29 road) vs. Okla. City Thunder (39-24, 20-11 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.6 (17th), Nets – 99.1 (30th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.9 (6th), Nets – 110.3 (26th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (14th), Nets – 91.5 (23rd)
View from the enemy: Nets Are Scorching
Feel free to make a dimissive comment about the Nets. But remember this: They beat the Celtics just two weeks ago. They can beat people. They haven’t done it a lot, but it certainly can happen.
If anything concerns me it’s the distractions. First, James Harden is out. That’s a blow to flow and continuity. Second, a MONSTER game looms with the Jazz Sunday night. It would be very easy to look over the Nets and think about Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. But if you forget about Devon Harris and Brooke Lopez, they’ll bite you. Literally. Brook Lopez bites people. Or so I hear.
New Jersey coming in: The Nets have lost four of five, most recently Wednesday in Dallas after holding a big lead. They did win in New York just six days ago, so the taste of victory is fresh with them. They’re 2-8 in their last 10 and are 4-29 on the road.THE MATCHUPS
Everywhere except the five, Oklahoma City holds a substantial advantage. Russell Westbrook should outplay Devin Harris, though Harris is a good player. The Nets don’t have anyone to defend Kevin Durant. Jeff Green should have an edge on Josh Boone who he’s much quicker than and can take outside. Yi Jianlian who lit OKC up last time appears to be sitting this one out. Boone is a pretty strong offensive rebounder though, so OKC needs to be good there.
A lot of New Jersey’s success relies on a third scorer stepping up. Brook Lopez is obviously strong inside and Harris can score, but they need that third guy. Courtney Lee is supposed to be that guy, but I like Thabo on him. Terrence Williams has been playing better, but again, OKC has the defenders to match him. The bench obviously took a hit in losing James Harden for a few games, but luckily, the rotation has a chance to get sorted tonight against the Nets, and it will likely be Kyle Weaver seeing 10-15 minutes of gametime. New Jersey’s second unit is pretty soft as it’s headlined by Williams, Keyon Dooling and Kris Humphries.
Nonetheless, obviously this is a game we should be able to wipe our hands off afterward and move on without much thinking about it. New Jersey may have tested Dallas the other night, but it shouldn’t happen in the Ford Center tonight. All business for 48 minutes and then let’s get ready for Utah.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A-C-I-T-Y-T-H-U-N-D-E-R.