The 4-12 New Jersey Nets, 0-5 on the second half of back-to-backs this season, will take on the 3-13 Charlotte Bobcats tonight at the Prudential Center. The Nets are coming off solid defensive performance against Oklahoma City, but a game where much of the loss was blamed on the Prudential Center by Deron Williams and Anthony Morrow. Charlotte is coming off a loss on the road against the Bulls.
Joining Devin and I in the pregame conversation is Spencer Percy, writer for ESPN’s TrueHoop affiliate Queen City Hoops. Let’s take it away.
1. Most intriguing matchup tonight?
- Chris Hooker:
Avery Johnson versus Paul Silas. New Jersey and Charlotte are both under similar situations–teams full of bench players who start because they literally have nobody else. Much of the criticism of Avery is his somewhat odd decisions rotation-wise and when there are two teams full of bad players, the winner will be whoever plays their scrubs the smartest. Coaching battle in full force.
- Devin Kharpertian: MarShon Brooks vs. Gerald Henderson. Henderson is a talented defender who can keep Brooks at bay, and after Brooks’s first “off” game, he’ll have to bounce back for the Nets to gain traction early. Henderson’s a talented scorer, and is a nice test for Brooks defensively.
- Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops: Kemba Walker going against Deron Williams. I have a feeling that Williams is going to teach the rook a lesson or two tonight, but Kemba loves these kinds of situations and certainly won’t back down. In specific, Kemba guarding Deron in one-on-one situations will be interesting considering the fact that he’s shown some promise so far this season when guarding opposing guards on an island.
2. What will swing tonight’s game?
- Chris Hooker: It’s been a consistent factor that if Deron Williams puts up a double-double performance, the Nets win. In New Jersey’s four wins this season, D-Will has shot the ball well, found clean, open looks and gotten his teammates involved. Bottom line: if Deron plays like good Deron, Nets win.
- Devin Kharpertian: Deron Williams overcoming himself. When he’s hitting his shots and finding teammates for open looks, the Nets look like a playoff team (no, really). When he’s not, the team’s in complete disarray. If he can beat his own issues tonight, Charlotte’s got no chance.
- Spencer Percy: Deron Williams. If he gets what he wants against the undersized Bobcats then I believe it could be a long night for Charlotte, but I’ll refer back to the Kemba/Deron matchup; I weirdly like it for Kemba. Don’t believe he’s going to stop Deron, but keep him at bay (20 pts, 7 ast, 4 reb….).
3. And the winner is…
- Chris Hooker: Nets. For the first time this season, the Nets actually have better players than the opposing team. All New Jersey has to do here is find offensive chemistry early, get Brooks/Morrow/Stevenson to hit their open shots and play solid (not even spectacular defense) and they should get the W.
- Devin Kharpertian:Nets. Leaning on homecourt heavy here; the Nets claim that the Prudential Center doesn’t feel like home, but it doesn’t feel like home to opposing teams either. Charlotte’s not a marquee team, and while it’ll be competitive, the Nets should sneak this one out before tomorrow’s Chicago annihilation.
- Spencer Percy: Bobcats. They’ve played a lot tougher as of late, especially on the defensive end. Charlotte played in Chicago last night, but had 3 days off previous to yesterday, so their legs should still be relatively fresh. If Henderson doesn’t pull one of his disappearing acts on the box score then I believe the losing streak ends tonight for the ‘Cats.