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.