It’s very early in the season still, but the Brooklyn Nets have been disappointing through their first five games. As nice as a win over the Miami Heat was, they have stacked three losses to the Cavs, Magic and Wizards on top of it and have a tough opponent in the Indiana Pacers to face on Saturday.
The Nets have a lot to answer for in this game. Why does Brook Lopez disappear in the second half of every game? When is Deron Williams going to get to 100 percent? And what the heck happened with Kevin Garnett in Friday night’s game? The Big Ticket has talked a lot about consistency, but showed none of it against the Wizards.
Meanwhile, the Pacers, who are a perfect 6-0 so far this season, have dominated teams in the second half and have a plus/minute of +85 in the second half and +53 in the third quarter alone (not a good sign for the Nets). They also have held all six opponents to 91 points or less and all five of their starters are averaging double figures with a 45.3 shooting percentage.
This is a recipe for disaster for the Nets, but at the same time a good test. They were the ones who started talking about winning a championship, not the media, and if they really are a championship caliber team, they should be able to go out on Saturday night and play a tough, competitive game.
GAME TIME DECISION: Shaun Livingston is listed on the game notes as a game time decision with a left ankle sprain. Hopefully he’ll be able to play because he’s been solid coming off the bench for the Nets tonight and has averaged 11.9 points with 5.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per 36 minutes with a 56.5 effective field goal percentage. If he can’t go it likely means that Alan Anderson will serve as the backup point guard with Tyshawn Taylor with the Nets’ D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor.
WALKING WOUNDED: Deron Williams’ ankle injury almost looks like it’s gotten worse, but he is slowly increasing his minutes still and played 30 for the first time all season on Friday. It’ll be interesting to see if Kidd actually limits him slightly on Saturday being it is a back-to-back game. Kirilenko is also working his way back from a back injury, but has not seen much of a minutes increase. He did play 16 minutes against the Jazz on Tuesday, but has been limited to 11 or 12 minutes in the other three games he’s played.
BACK-TO-BACK: Speaking of back-to-back games, Jason Kidd talked a lot during the preseason about how he would like to see Kevin Garnett sit out one of them as he’s 37 and is more important to the team in the playoffs. However, KG has made it known that he doesn’t exactly like the plan. Today is the first time this decision has had to be made so we’ll see what happens. KG played terribly against the Wizards on Friday so it might not be a terrible idea to sit him.
A BROOK CHALLENGE: Brook Lopez has been the Nets best offensive weapon this season and tonight will be a big test for him as Roy Hibbert is one of the best forwards at defending in the paint. Opponents have shot just 34.8 percent against him down low and he has averaged 4.7 blocks per game. This is going to be a tough game for the Nets as it is, but without an effective Lopez it may be next to impossible for them to win.
WELCOME BACK: Brooklyn’s own Lance Stephenson is in town. The Coney Island guard has averaged 14.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per 36 minutes with a 56.3 effective field goal percentage. Out of those four stats, three of them, with the exception being the assists total, would be career highs if he could maintain those numbers throughout the year.