The Brooklyn Nets will face the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, starting Saturday night at 8 P.M. Today and tomorrow, we'll take a look at how the teams match up.

Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez trying to score on Joakim Noah. (AP)

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Is Brook Lopez ready for the playoffs?

Reggie Evans laughed.

"Hell yeah." ... MORE →

 

Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez. (AP)

Season Numbers: 74 G, 74 GS, 30.4 MPG, 19.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 52.1 FG%, 75.8 FT%, 24.7 PER, 9.0 WS

The debate over what an MVP award means rages and enrages. Some may say that it should go to the best player, while others might argue it should go to the player who is most critical to a team’s success. While the best player, in most cases, is often the most critical to a team’s success, the situation with the Brooklyn Nets this season is somewhat different.

For me, an MVP is someone who changes the team dynamic when on the floor and when taken off, the team is simply not the same. Brook Lopez -- though not as flashy and provocative as most star players in the NBA -- is that player for the Nets this season.... MORE →

 

Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez gets knocked for his rebounding, but is he doing the dirty work? (AP)

One of the biggest knocks on Nets All-Star center Brook Lopez is his inability to rebound, despite being closer to the rim than the vast majority of players on the court. Dylan Murphy of HoopChalk, ESPN TrueHoops X's and O's blog, mined the data to find out why.

What he found, contrary to conventional wisdom... MORE →

 

Brook Lopez, Deron Williams

Brook Lopez, Deron Williams (AP)

Brooklyn Nets franchise point guard Deron Williams clocked in at #17 and All-Star center Brook Lopez came in at #26 on ESPN's #NBARank, ranking the 30 best players in the NBA. Williams had a total score of 7.95, placing him below Golden State Warriors sharp shooter Stephen Curry and in front of the Miami Heat's Chris Bosh. Lopez's score of 7.53 landed him one spot behind Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge and directly in front of injured Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who was taken five spots ahead of Lopez in the 2008 NBA draft. In a poll on The Brooklyn Game earlier this season, Brook Lopez was far and away voted the team's MVP.... MORE →

 

The 43-32 Brooklyn Nets play the 18-58 Charlotte Bobcats in what will be another important game for Brooklyn in terms of playoff seeding. Therefore, you know what that means: another chance to play The BK Game Streak and win a $200 Amazon Gift Card!

The game is as simple as it sounds:

1. The contest relies on a standard betting line for each game. (Note: you must be logged into Facebook to play.) To make your prediction, select YES or NO to agree or disagree. For example: today's line is "Deron Williams & Brook Lopez will combine to score 65 or more points." If you think that Deron Williams and Brook Lopez will combine to score 65 or more points, select "YES." If you think that Deron Williams and Brook Lopez will combine to score less than 65 points, select "NO."

For the record: Deron Williams and Brook Lopez's combined points per game averages this season is 37.7 PPG. This season, Deron Williams has scored 30 or more points six times with his season high being a 42 point effort against the Washington Wizards in which he hit 11 of 16 threes. Brook Lopez has scored 30 or more points in three games this season with his season high being a 38 point effort against Dallas just a few weeks ago. In that contest against Dallas, Williams and Lopez combined to score 69 points: the only time this season they have combined for 65 or more points.

2. String together wins and try to get the longest streak of correct predictions before the end of the NBA regular season. Follow game results on the leaderboard on the right sidebar.

At the end of the season, we'll award three prizes to the players with the best three streaks: The Gold Net Trophy (longest streak) and a $200 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to first place, the Silver Net Trophy (second-longest streak) and a $50 Amazon Gift Card to second place, and the Bronze Net Trophy (third-longest streak) $25 Amazon Gift Card and a Bronze Net Trophy to third place.

Read more rules for the contest here.

Good luck!

 

Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson (AP)

With the game on the line this season, the Brooklyn Nets' offense has been relatively predictable: give the ball to guard Joe Johnson and get the hell out of his way. While that's usually a poor strategy long-term, so far this season it's paid off: Johnson is 9-10 from the field with under 30 seconds left and the game's score within one possession.

Against the Chicago Bulls Thursday night, however, Johnson didn't touch the ball in the final minute, with Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo instead opting to run the offense through Brook Lopez in the post and Deron Williams at the top of the key. This choice didn't faze Johnson, but it didn't work too well with Lopez -- who committed a crucial turnover and missed two shots in that final minute.

Johnson, a veteran to crunch time play, had some advice for the 25-year-old Lopez.... MORE →

 

Check out the advanced stat box score from last night's 92-90 Brooklyn Nets loss here.

Some final takeaways:

  • Let's get this out of the way now: Deron Williams made the right play at the end of regulation. Williams got a step on Nate Robinson, drew Nazr Mohammad into the lane, and hit Brook Lopez for a wide open 17-foot jumper. That's a shot well within Lopez's comfort zone, and he was a friendlier rim away from sending the game to overtime. Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo drew the play up for his best player that night -- Williams -- to make a play, and Williams made a play. Sometimes they just don't fall. What they did was better than an isolation, it was team basketball that found an open man. It was not typical Nets basketball. It just didn't work this time.

  • Or look at it this way: Brook Lopez & Deron Williams combined for 58 points on 19-35 shooting. Rest of team? 32 points on 12-35 shooting.

  • Much more egregious than the final play -- and even the final minute, where Lopez completely fell apart -- was the Nets' curious decision to keep Reggie Evans on Carlos Boozer as Boozer shredded Rocksteady Reggie limb from limb. Six of Boozer's 12 field goals came with Evans in his face, one other came when Lopez had to rotate over to cover the assignment, and another came on a tip-in by Boozer over Evans after Andray Blatche had contested a shot. Carlesimo often talks about going "big" and is anathema to going "small," but he rarely does either -- choosing the unhappy "medium" of a traditional lineup.

  • Boozer even had a higher rebound percentage than Evans, which would be less important if Boozer also didn't score 29 points.

  • Your statistically odd plus-minus note of the day: Every Nets starter had a positive plus-minus, and every Nets bench player had a negative one.

  • Carlesimo also felt that there was a no-call on Lopez's second-to-last shot attempt, citing a rule I didn't quite understand. More on this in a later post.

  • Closing on this note: the Nets have a cakewalk schedule the rest of the way. Here's the final eight matchups: Charlotte (home), Philadelphia (home), Boston (away), Indiana (away), Toronto (away), Washington (home), Detroit (home). That's six teams in tank mode (Washington a possible exception), a seventh (Boston) that's far from guaranteed but winnable, and a game against an Indiana team that they've beaten in both matchups already.
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    In a phenomenal piece for CBS Sports, Matt Moore sat down with Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, who opened up about the two ways he views the world -- the creative and the analytic -- and how those worlds come together.

    Lopez, a former creative writing major at Stanford University who Moore says has "a basketball IQ through the roof," walks Moore through his decision-making with a number of video clips that showcase different facets of Lopez's offensive game.

    Here's a snippet... MORE →

     

    AP

    Brook Lopez is the antithesis to what we believe a superstar should be. He doesn't look at the game of basketball as life and death. His waking moments don't revolve around watching Synergy or NBA League Pass. He readily admits that he doesn't watch a lot of basketball when he's not working or scouting opponents. You wouldn't accuse him of having a "killer instinct." He's a walking paradox: an awkward, technically sound, brilliant offensive talent, who sometimes seems like he has a passing interest in basketball to fund his comic book collection. He's a better writer than a leaper, and smarter than he lets on with his goofy public persona.

    Lopez earned his first trip to the All-Star Game this season as a replacement after an injury kept Rajon Rondo out, and now with the season winding down, there's another award in his sights: a first-team All-NBA selection. The award is voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters (though for some reason they haven't given a vote to stupid Brooklyn Nets fans who started blogging because they couldn't sleep and felt like watching John Wall highlights when I was in college), and Lopez has a shot for a few reasons. Writers may feel anathema voting for Dwight Howard given his off-court issues and team struggles. They may feel that Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan aren't "true" centers, an admittedly silly distinction.

    But he's also got a shot for the most important reason: because he deserves it.
    ... MORE →