Up until about a week ago, I had this game eyed up as one the Nets had a chance at winning. Since then however, the Pacers have been playing some really good basketball, winning four in a row, including a beat-down against Boston. This game is going to be a lot tougher than what most Nets' fans expect.
It looks like coach Lawrence Frank is doing some tweaking of the line-up to try and match-up with the Pacers and their lineup including Danny Granger at the PF spot. According to the great Ben Couch, the lineup tonight is Rafer Alston, CDR, T-Will, Trenton Hassell, and Brook Lopez (the same day I tell the world Terrence Williams is best at the SF, that is where he gets his start...coincidence? Yeah, probably).
So essentially what Lawrence Frank is doing is going small to match-up against the Pacers' small lineup. Normally I wouldn't be a fan of this. If a team wants to go small, you keep your normal (and mostly likely bigger) lineup out there and see if they can defend you. That's only an option if you have your best players available though. With what Lawrence Frank has to do is match-up and try to prevent Indiana from scoring. That is the Nets' only chance to win.
Nets' Projected Starting Lineup
- PG - Rafer Alston
- SG - Chris Douglas-Roberts
- SF - Terrence Williams
- PF - Trenton Hassell
- C - Brook Lopez
Pacers' Projected Starting Lineup
- PG - Earl Watson
- SG - Brandon Rush
- SF - Dahntay Jones
- PF - Danny Granger
- C - Roy Hibbert
Danny Granger vs. Trenton Hassell - You gotta feel for Trenton. The past three games (including tonight's) he has been matched-up with the opposing team's best player. He did fairly well against Vince Carter and Dwyane Wade, but I think Granger's size will end up giving Trenton fits.
Rafer Alston vs. Earl Watson - Earl is a solid defender who doesn't do much else. Rafer has been playing really well as of late, and I think he will be able to have his way with Watson, a player who seems to get more and more exposed as his playing time increases during the game.
Matchup Of The Night
Brook Lopez vs. Roy Hibbert - Roy Hibbert has been using his big frame to his advantage this year, and he could be able to do it again, using it to try and keep Brook Lopez out of the post. If he is successful and Brook ends up taking more jumpers than he should, this could be a long night.
Keys To Victory
Either - Let Granger get his and stop everyone else or focus on stopping Granger and let everybody else get theirs. We can't have both. Against the Heat, we allowed wade to get 22 and Haslem to get 28 (a career high). If the Nets would have let one of those happen instead of both, they could have won that game.
Limit Turnovers - When you limit turnovers it does two things. It gives you more opportunities to score, and it prevents the other team from getting easy baskets. Both are very important to the Nets. As they continue to struggle to score, they need as many chances at the hoop as they can get. Also, they have been playing very well defensively, so you don't want to give teams easy buckets. You want them to try to score on your half-court defense.
Get Their Bigs In Foul Trouble - 3 of the Pacers bigs who would be getting some playing time are out with injuries. If the Nets can get Hibbert and Granger in foul trouble, the Nets will be going against the likes of Solomon Jones and Josh McRoberts. Who would you rather go up against?
Current Prediction Record: 6-4
I see the Nets keeping this one close (what else is new), but I think at some point in the second half Granger is going to reel off a big number, putting the Pacers ahead for good. Hopefully, the Nets prove me wrong.