This game right here could be the Nets final chance to get a win before they break the record for most losses to start a season. Denver, Portland, Sacramento (who is much better), and Lakers, that is a gauntlet right there. As for the game this afternoon, it is good to finally see Devin back (even if he is coming off the bench today), because it puts guys back to their normal roles. Rafer Alston won't be playing as many minutes, T-Will won't be getting any minutes at the PG, and that means it cuts Bobby Simmons minutes at the 3. All of those things are good things, and it is good to see this team finally getting healthy.
This game is going to be a battle of styles. The Knicks play very little defense while the Nets can't score. Whoever wins tonight will play their style the best. If the Knicks score over 100, they are going to win. If the Nets can keep them around 85-90, I think they can win. The key to keeping the Knicks from running is limiting turnovers and making/taking good shots. If the Nets can do that, they will win today. Let's look at the lineups:
Chris Duhon vs. Rafer Alston:
Like we already said, Harris is coming off the bench today, so that leaves Alston matched up with Duhon. Duhon is probably more unpopular with Knicks fans than Rafer is with Nets fans, so that tells you how he has been playing. Rafer is getting a lot of flack for not playing well, but he is playing how he has always played. He takes a good amount of threes and there are days he hits them and plays great and there are days he misses them and plays awful. The Nets aren't 0-12 simply because of Rafer.
Advantage: Rafer Alston
Toney Douglas vs. Chris Douglas-Roberts
Toney Douglas is the guy that is preventing Allen Iverson for being a Knick. The Knicks brass (and myself) love this kid's toughness and defense, plus he can score. He could be a real good player going forward, but CDR is going to have his way with him today. CDR is quicker, and his length will be a big problem for Douglas.
Advantage: Chris Douglas-Roberts
Danilo Gallinari vs. Trenton Hassell
After going up against a few great players (Wade, Anthony, and Carter), Hassell gets a bit of a rest here. I am not saying Gallinari isn't a good player, he is one of the best three point shooters in the league right now, but I am willing to bet that Hassell would rather cover him than the guys I listed before. Plus on the offensive end, Hassell will be able to use his new-found post game to body up the weaker, slower Gallinari.
Advantage: Trenton Hassell
Wilson Chandler vs. Josh Boone
Wilson Chandler is a guy like Thaddeus Young. He has a guard's skillset in a forward's body. If he is matched up against Boone he will be able to take him off the dribble, and Boone's size advantage won't play a factor at all because Boone can't score in the post.
Advantage: Wilson Chandler
David Lee vs. Brook Lopez
This is a game where you want to see Brook Lopez not take a shot from farther than 15 feet out. David Lee is a great player, but he is really a PF and not a C, Brook Lopez is the bigger body, and he can just body him up and score in the post. The only worry I have is Lee out-running him, but Brook showed in the preseason that he can handle that.
Advantage: Brook Lopez
Keys To The Game
If the Nets make shots, it limits the Knicks possessions. The Knicks like to run, but they can't run if they have to grab the ball out of the net.
Keep Using CDR and Brook in the pick and roll:
The one (and maybe only) good thing I took away from the game last night was how successful the pick and roll was with CDR running it. They would give it to him on the wing, and then they had Brook set the screen for him. It makes sense, CDR is a much more comfortable shooter off the dribble (rather than catching and shooting), plus he is a good enough passer to hit Brook on the roll if he is open. It worked well, and lets hope that continues.
For the same reason, you want to limit the Knicks chances to run and get easy baskets. You can do that by not turning it over. You also want to get as many attempts at the basket as possible since the Nets aren't the best shooting team.
Current Record = 7-5
I think the Nets pull this one out. They needed a crazy comeback to beat the Pacers and two overtimes to beat the Bobcats. Granted, both of those teams beat the Nets, but I just think with Devin back, it will make a bunch of players better, especially Brook Lopez. Nets win this one.