Brooklyn Nets: 103.8 offensive rating (9th), 102.9 defensive rating (18th), 90.55 possessions per game (29th)
Utah Jazz: 104.7 offensive rating (8th), 104.1 defensive rating (23rd), 94.14 possessions per game (19th)
Watch & Listen: YES Network. Ian Eagle & Jim Spanarkel have the call. You can listen in on WFAN New York in English and WADO in Spanish.
Preview: Off the court, these two teams are inextricably linked, thanks to that February 2010 deal that brought Deron Williams from Utah to New Jersey and, eventually, Brooklyn. To acquire Williams, the Nets dealt starting point guard Devin Harris, rookie and 3rd overall pick Derrick Favors, their first-round pick from that season (unprotected, became the 3rd overall pick again, allowing the Jazz to select Enes Kanter), and an additional first-round pick the Nets had earlier acquired from the Golden State Warriors.
The ripples of this trade are felt on both sides. For Brooklyn, acquiring and retaining Williams signified a stark directional shift in franchise philosophy, from young and rebuilding to necessitating an instant splash with veteran all-stars. Similarly, the Jazz went from a winning, albeit limited, franchise led by their dissatisfied point guard to a complete overhaul. Favors — a darling in his time in New Jersey, but also surrounded by trade talk since his first day in a uniform — and Kanter have developed in Utah, and Harris — the NBA’s circumnavigator — is the only player who has moved on, now on the Atlanta Hawks.
Williams recently made waves talking about his time in Utah. Though Jerry Sloan — his coach in Utah for almost all of his tenure there — retired under uncomfortable and murky circumstances shortly before Williams’ departure, Williams recently recalled Sloan’s “flex” offense fondly, noting that he preferred the fluid, multi-positional offense based on constant ball and player movement to current coach Avery Johnson’s current brand of isolation-heavy basketball. Johnson later added today that the Nets have incorporated elements of Utah’s offense to help Williams feel more comfortable, and will continue to do so as the season progresses.
Despite the team’s recent struggles, Brooklyn enters tonight with what you could almost call a fresh start. For the first time since their franchise-best 11-4 start, the starting five is fully intact; Brook Lopez has no minutes limit, while Kris Humphries — relegated to bench duty in the past five games, where he has struggled — is back in the starting lineup. Jerry Stackhouse and Josh Childress will both sit, and while there’s no one better equipped to unfailingly espouse about Stackhouse’s strengths than yours truly, the Nets are humming at near-full capacity tonight. Against an inferior Utah team that’s 4-10 on the road, the Brooklyn Nets hold the advantage tonight.