Chris Paul & Deron Williams duel for the last time this regular season. (AP)
In the midst of their first winning streak of the season -- two games is a winning streak! -- the Brooklyn Nets stay home for just their second streak of consecutive home games on the season, taking on the 14-8 Los Angeles Clippers. The game is broadcast nationally, only on TNT.
A lot of reunions in the last few days: after the Nets, armed with former Boston Celtics forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, beat the Celtics 104-96 Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers, coached by former Celtics coach Doc Rivers, beat the Celtics 97-88 Wednesday night. Now, Rivers and the Clippers are in Brooklyn to take on Garnett, Pierce, and the Nets.
This is the second and last time the Nets will see this Clippers team, having lost the first matchup 110-103 in Los Angeles on November 16th without Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez, who were all nursing various injuries. Of course, that'll change tonight.
Lopez returned six games ago, and Williams is finally back, punctuating his emphatic return with a game-high 25 points and 7 assists in the team's win over the Boston Celtics, using drag screens to get going in transition. Pierce, who missed the game with a strained groin, will most likely come off the bench in what could turn into a long-term 6th-man role for the future Hall of Fame forward. Garnett may sit, but that's only if head coach Jason Kidd wants to rest his 37-year-old on the second game of a back-to-back. After a solid defensive performance Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics, that's unlikely.
This will also mark the 20th game between Williams and Clippers point guard Chris Paul, and despite Paul's standing as the best point guard in the league, Williams has a slight statistical edge over him in their head-to-head matchups. Williams averages 16.7 points and 8.5 assists per game against Paul, shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from three-point range; Paul averages 16.4 points and 9.2 assists, but shoots just 43.6 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from deep -- well below his career averages.
Plus, Williams's teams are 14-5 in the 19 games.
Still, no one controls a game like Paul, an obsessive offensive wizard with a sublime ability to set up himself and teammates in full control of the pace of the game. The one knock on his armor is his curiously declining three-point shooting: after hitting 40.9 percent of his threes in the 2009-10 season, his three-point percentage has declined steadily each year, bottoming out at the unspectacular rate of 30.4 percent so far this year. Of course, with Brooklyn's perimeter defense in the shambles it's in now, they might give him a boost tonight without even trying.
Beyond that, the Clippers are led by Lob City magistrates Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in their frontcourt, with long-distance shooter Jamal Crawford in the backcourt. Griffin's known for his dunking but is more than a dunker offensively, DeAndre Jordan is known for what he did to Brandon Knight but is more than a destroyer. Expect to see Jamal Crawford try to make at least one defender fall with a crossover.
Game tips off at 8 P.M.