The 35-26 Brooklyn Nets have split the first two games against the 19-40 Washington Wizards, winning an overtime game in Brooklyn and losing a laugher in Washington that Billy King was able to witness firsthand. The series returns to Brooklyn tonight, and in honor of the final matchup of the season between these two teams, here’s three things I think you guys should pay close attention to.
1) John Wall vs Deron Williams’s ankles. Wall is perhaps the fastest player end-to-end in the league, a dizzying talent that won my analytic heartbrain over when he threw a behind-the-back pass perfectly through a target without looking on the first try in his inaugural Sports Science. Seriously, watch it, it’s insane:
Wall isn’t an elite point guard for a few reasons — he’s struggled with injuries and a terrible outside shot early in his career — but he’s the type of dynamic, athletic point guard that can take over a game, particularly against an athletically limited Brooklyn team. But — if Deron Williams is still “rejuvenated Deron Williams” and doesn’t fall back into “sad and injured Deron Williams,” keeping pace with Wall could swing tonight’s game.
Also, John Wall’s middle name is Hildred. Keep that in mind tonight. Could be a factor.
2) Joe Johnson’s heel. After his slow start, Johnson’s overall numbers are slowly creeping back towards his career-level respectability: he’s shooting 38.4% from beyond the arc, rarely turns the ball over, and has a matchup tonight he hasn’t exploited well enough in the two meetings between these teams. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell if Johnson’s at 100% yet after his sore heel/plantar fasciitis issues,
3) The constantly changing rotation. Today marks game two of the “four or five” game stretch where P.J. Carlesimo has promised more Mirza Teletovic and little to none of Kris Humphries. As I looked at earlier today, playing more of Teletovic with the starters might be beneficial with extended time, but keeping Evans as a major player with the starters has caused the Nets more harm than good.
Teletovic got Humphries’ requisite minutes early, entering the game midway through the first quarter with Keith Bogans, but didn’t play much over the course of the game. Expect to see a minutes spike, particularly if he’s taking advantage of his matchup with the interior-oriented Emeka Okafor.