The Nets (21-29) played one of their worst games of the season in Washington Saturday night; relinquishing 65 points in the paint while shooting just 33.8 percent from the field en route to a lackluster and uninspired 114-77 loss to the Wizards. The defeat came on the hind end of their twelfth back-to-back set of the season; a dynamic Coach Lionel Hollins has tended to accordingly in respect to allotting playing time, especially for Kevin Garnett who has predominantly sat in such games. The energy was evident there from the start as relayed by the head coach after the contest:
“We had no resistance, we had no energy,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “I kind of sensed that in the locker room before the game, that we didn’t have energy, and it carried over to the start of the game.” To drive the point home even further, the Nets tallied only three fast break points the entire game. Three!-
Tonight, the Nets offense will be posed with a difficult task against the stingy defense of the Milwaukee Bucks (28-23). Entering tonight’s game, Jason Kidd’s team defense ranks sixth in points allowed per game (97.1), fourth in opponent field goal Percentage (43.4) , third in opponent three-point percentage (32.8) and second in creating turnovers (17.1 per game). The Bucks also rank third in the league in steals per game (9.5). Kidd as player was always a vocal leader stressing team defense and the importance of obstructing passing lanes, and Nets fans saw that instilled in their team last year. Nets ranked fourth in steals (8.6) and sixth in creating turnovers (15.8) last season. This season, the Nets defense ranks 25th (7.1) and 22nd (13.9) in the same categories, yet losing Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston play a big factor as well.
The first time these two teams played was a doozy. Kidd’s notorious return to Brooklyn after his ugly breakup with the Nets in the offseason resulted in a triple-overtime thriller that left the Nets on the short end 122-118. Perhaps the most exhilarating moment of the game (and there were many) was when Brandon Knight missed a breakaway lay-up with less than a second left that would’ve won it. At the time it seemed symbolic of something, but alas his game-tying three-pointer in the second overtime threw all theories out the window as that game simply defied explanation. It was a roller coaster night, and both teams have continued their up and down seasons thereafter.
Milwaukee is on the rise lately, winning six of their last seven including a 96-93 win over the Boston Celtics Saturday night led by 26 points by Knight who hit a key jumper with 6.7 seconds remaining. Knight has been the steady presence for the offense this season, averaging 17.9 points per game; no one else on the team averages more than 13 points per game.
The injuries have hit the Bucks hard this season, especially of late. Already without Jabari Parker and Kendall Marshall, both out for the season with ACL tears, the Bucks have been without Zaza Pachulia (sore right calf) for the past six games and newly signed Kenyon Martin is listed as questionable for tonight’s game with a sprained left ankle. Of course, the Bucks are still without forward Larry Sanders who is suspended indefinitely by the team for failure to comply with the league’s Anti-drug program. Sanders has not appeared in a game since December 23rd.
Tip-off 8:00 PM E.S.T. at BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI