Matchups, Questions, Predictions:
Nets-Lakers Super Preview

Mike D’Antoni, Kobe Bryant
Should Brooklyn be worried? (AP)

Matchup Preview

 
Deron WilliamsPG: Deron Williams vs. Steve Nash. The world’s consummate point guard may have ceded some of his pick and roll duties to Kobe Bryant, but he’s proving he’s still an effective player (check his 11, 10 and 5 he put up most recently vs. the Pistons). Deron Williams, however, is still powering the Nets offense as much as ever and on games where Williams is playing his best, this match up isn’t even close. Problem is, Deron has yet to show the game in, game out consistency needed from our star player. -J.D.

Edge: Brooklyn

SG: Joe Johnson vs. Kobe Bryant. Over the Lakers’ latest six-game stretch, Kobe Bryant has morphed himself into his team’s primary ball distributor and this change of strategy has appeared to be working. Over the six game period the Lakers have gone 5-1 and Bryant is averaging over 10 assists a game. Joe Johnson has been steady for the Nets this season, but aside from a few moments, he’s also been unspectacular. He’s not Kobe Bryant. -J.D.

Edge: Los Angeles

SF: Gerald Wallace vs. Metta World Peace. Both Wallace & World Peace have reputations as elite, physical defenders, with the Artest formerly known as Ron garnering four All-Defensive appearances and Crash being named to the 2010 NBA All-Defensive First Team. Both are also good for an emotional post-game quote and have value that doesn’t show up in their sub-average PERs. World Peace has rediscovered his offensive game this year (sort of), but his shot has been wildly inconsistent. Wallace has given consistent effort but the results haven’t always been there, especially since he injured his ribs a few weeks ago. Crash gets the edge for versatility and his seemingly inexplicable ability to help his team win, even if the box score doesn’t show it. Typical Gerald Wallace. -W.R.

Edge: Brooklyn

PF: Reggie Evans vs. Earl Clark. The Lakers moved Gasol out of the starting lineup seven games ago, and it’s worked wonders for them. Gasol’s actual playing time has barely ticked as he’s playing better than ever, and sudden Lakers hero Earl Clark has been a surprisingly effective power forward in his place, showing off an inside-outside game and playing well with the starters. Evans’s requisite energy hasn’t been doing him many favors lately — his most notable act was calling out LeBron James’s abilities and championship pedigree shortly before the Heat blew out Brooklyn. Whoops. -D.K.

Edge: Los Angeles

C: Brook Lopez vs. Not Dwight Howard. Assuming he sits out tonight, Dwight Howard Unappreciation Night has been ruined by Dwight Howard, Ruiner of All Things Good. He was supposed to come into Brooklyn as a man tired, run ragged by his own incessant nonsense. He was supposed to run into the new behemoth, All-Star Brook Lopez. He was supposed to allow Nets fans the closure we deserve: boo the hell out of him as Brooklyn’s currently more productive center goes off for 30 and 10 on Brooklyn’s home court. Instead, we get to watch Brook beat up on a very sad Pau Gasol or Earl “Grey Tea” Clark. Still fine, but it’s just going to be a little tough to boo and make sure Dwight knows it’s for him. -A.G.

Edge: Brooklyn

Bench: Bench Mob vs. Gasol’s Army. Normally, the Nets would have a significant edge here — they’ve got one of the most well-balanced benches in the league, and five contributing rotation players (Watson, Brooks, Bogans, Blatche, and let’s say Teletovic & Humphries combined) that can provide a big boost off the bench. However, the Nets don’t have a Hall of Fame-caliber power forward coming off their bench. The dysfunctional Lakers do. Even in the midst of his worst season, Pau Gasol is without question the best player on either bench.

The fact that I still give Brooklyn the bench edge should tell you how weak the rest of the Lakers bench is. -D.K.

Edge: Brooklyn

Coach: P.J. Carlesimo vs. Mike D’Antoni. This is a tough one. If we were going off this season only, the edge would have to be P.J. But if we were going off of career coaching résumé, Mike D would surely get the nod. I don’t think either coach is a game changer like say, a Gregg Popovich or a Tom Thibodeau. Neither coach has a system that has been inherently successful, and with the way D’antoni has confused the concept of winning with getting his system to work, one has to wonder whether his stubbornness is on the same level as Avery Johnson’s. One thing is clear though; most Nets players like playing for Carlesimo. The same cannot be said about the Lakers and D’antoni. -M.W.

Edge: Brooklyn

Next: Nets-Lakers Roundtable

Nets-Lakers Matchup Preview
Nets-Lakers Roundtable
Nets-Lakers Predictions

News from Around NYC