After a hard-fought 110-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, The Nets (11-15) look to build on the offensive chemistry that provided 52.6 percent shooting on a season-high 29 assists, including at least 25 points in all four quarters. It was a complete team effort, albeit against one of the Eastern Conference’s bottom-dwellers; Mason Plumlee continued his high level play as a starter with 21 points (9-10 shooting) and 12 rebounds, and Jarrett Jack played perhaps his best game of the season filling in for the injured Deron Williams (strained calf) with 15 points and 10 assists.
Tonight, the Nets welcome in the Denver Nuggets (12-16), coming off a 110-82 blowout loss last night at the hands of the struggling Charlotte Hornets, in the last Nets game before Christmas. Their last meeting came on February 23 in Denver, when the Nets stormed out of the gate with a 29-8 first quarter lead en route to a 112-89 victory amidst the high altitude in Denver. The eight first-quarter points were the second fewest allowed in franchise history (seven points vs. Utah on 12/17/08), and the fewest points the Nets had allowed in any quarter since they moved to Brooklyn.
The Nuggets, led by second-year head coach Brian Shaw, return the majority of last year’s team including the speedy Ty Lawson, their leading scorer at 15.3 points per game to go along with 10.3 assists per game good for third in the league. The Nuggets are fast: they run the fourth-quickest offense in the league, but rank 26th in the league in field goal percentage (43 percent) and 21st in offensive efficiency.
The Nets, despite playing well offensively on Sunday, struggled to stifle the Pistons on the glass. Andre Drummond himself grabbed a whopping 13 offensive rebounds, a category he leads the league in. The Nuggets are second in the league in that category behind Drummond’s Pistons, led by Newark native Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov, each averaging over 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.
Faried signed a four-year extension worth $50 million in the offseason and responded with a down year: In 25.4 minutes per game, he’s averaging 10.7 points down from 13.7 last year, and on pace for career lows in shooting percentage (49.5) and rebounds (6.8). Focus on his relentless high-energy and ferocity should be high priority especially considering the abundance of second chance opportunities the Nets relinquished last game.
Deron Williams’s status for tonight’s game is still uncertain and Brook Lopez (lower back strain) could be held out of his tenth straight game; whether he returns to the starting lineup or comes off the bench has become the more intriguing question for Lionel Hollins as his return approaches. Plumlee has thrived since becoming the starting center culminating with his last six games averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, shooting 68.2 percent.
Williams and Lopez continue to be the subject of many trade rumors, but nothing appears imminent.
One more game tidbit: Tonight, Kevin Garnett will play in his 1400th career game, which will rank him sixth on the all-time list.
Tip-off is at 7:30 E.S.T. at Barclays Center.