The Brooklyn Nets are undefeated in 2014, but that could change tonight.
In the midst of a four-game homestand, currently tied for the second-longest winning streak (three games) in the NBA, Brooklyn faces the only team hotter than them tonight: the scorching Golden State Warriors.
Jus how hot is this Warriors team? They’ve won ten straight games, including their last six on the road. With a win in Brooklyn, they would be the first team in NBA history to sweep a seven-game road trip. They’ve outscored opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions in their ten wins. David Lee is the NBA’s reigning player of the week, after averaging 24.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in four wins.
The Nets enter this game battered, but not beaten. Jason Kidd has trotted out eleven players in sixteen different starting lineups, and tonight’s starting 5 is another mystery. The Nets are without Brook Lopez, lost for the season following a foot fracture, and Deron Williams, who underwent platelet-rich plasma treatment and cortisone shots in both ankles.
While the Nets struggle with injury issues, the Warriors enter tonight’s game relatively healthy, as they’ve been all season. Lee and Thompson have started every single game for the Warriors, and only their starting five and Harrison Barnes have started more than one game. (Jermaine O’Neal started one game in place of Andrew Bogut.)
This Warriors team makes its mark offensively from three-point range, which spells trouble for Brooklyn. As I noted yesterday, the Nets are one of the league’s worst at defending three-point shots, particularly with crafty opponents that use screens and misdirections. Even in their three-game winning streak, they’ve allowed opponents to shoot the longball as well as ever. The Warriors, led by the “Splash Brothers,” are no exception.
The Warriors’ deep charge is led by Stephen Curry, a transcendent talent that can hit three-pointers in a variety of ways, both catching-and-shooting and off the dribble. He’s a career 43.8 percent three-point shooter, one of the best marks in NBA history, and set an NBA record with 273 three-pointers made last season. Curry’s shooting ability is matched only by his playmaking: despite leading his team in shots per game and scoring, he’s averaging a career-high 9.5 assists per game, with the second-best assist percentage in the league.
Curry’s splasher in crime is backcourt mate and specialist Klay Thompson. The two are neck and neck thus far this season: heading into Curry’s made 108 three-pointers on 273 attempts, Thompson’s made 111 on 268 attempts. Andre Iguodala, one of the league’s premier wing defenders, has made 48.1 percent of his three-pointers in the early going. This is an offense that lets it fly from the outside, when David Lee isn’t scoring on the inside.
One more note: Though the team’s known for its offense, the Warriors have secretly become one of the best defensive teams in the league. The addition of Iguodala, the return of former 1st overall pick Andrew Bogut, and the emergence of second-year forward Harrison Barnes have turned a team that was 14th in defensive efficiency a season ago into the third-stingiest defense.
Tipoff at 7:30 P.M.