Nets-Timberwolves: Playoff implications, 3 things to watch

Nets-Timberwolves: Playoff implications, 3 things to watch

2) The disruption battle.

Kevin Garnett, Nikola Pekovic
Kevin Garnett won’t play, but the Nets will still try to disrupt. (AP)

The Nets have made their mark on the defensive end in 2014 with disruption, forcing turnovers on a league-high 18.2 percent of opponent possessions since the new year began.

But the Timberwolves stand on the opposite end of that spectrum: they turn the ball over just 12 percent of the time, second-best in the NBA.

Thanks to Ricky Rubio’s creative abilities and Kevin Love’s basketball IQ, the Timberwolves more often than not get an open shot for Love or one of their perimeter players than cough up the basketball.

This poses an interesting matchup question for Nets coach Jason Kidd. Kidd may want Shaun Livingston to guard Rubio, given Rubio’s high 22.2 percent turnover rate and Livingston’s ability to cause steals. But Livingston does some of his best work defensively off the ball, subtly playing the passing lanes and swatting away passes with one of his outstretched hands.

That would make Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin an ideal matchup for Livingston; Martin rarely creates his own shot, but is nonetheless Minnesota’s second-leading scorer, putting up 19.2 points per game, but the Nets could cause Martin issues if Livingston blankets him.

That said, Martin does a fair amount of his damage coming around screens, a situation in which Brooklyn often switches defensively.

Kidd tends to play his matchups by ear, gauging the game flow in the first half and making changes if necessary as the game progresses. If the Nets aren’t forcing turnovers in the first half with whatever alignment, they may look to switch it up.

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