Nets vs. Bobcats: Three Things To Watch

Deron Williams, Ben Gordon
Deron Williams, Ben Gordon

The 43-32 Brooklyn Nets take on the 76-0 18-58 Charlotte Bobcats tonight in Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Here’s three things to watch.

1) Joe Johnson. Johnson, who had missed the previous five games due to a thigh contusion/injured heel, looked rusty Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls. In quarters 1-3 of that game, Johnson was just 1-5 from the field with three turnovers and just three points. It wasn’t until the fourth where Joe Cool got hot, scoring nine points on 3-4 shooting from downtown.

Johnson must find his rhythm and cohesion with Deron Williams before the playoffs begin. Though he’ll be guarded by one of the NBA’s best young defenders in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he shouldn’t have any trouble going to work. In his last outing vs. Charlotte, Johnson scored 22 points, shooting 5-8 from deep.

2) The second unit. Recently it’s appeared as though interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo has settled on his final rotation just as the team prepares to head into the post-season. The starting five has been set for a while, but the unit that replaces them has always seemed to be “up for grabs.”

Right now, it looks as though the second unit for Brooklyn consists of C.J. Watson, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, and Andray Blatche. This unit has not been poor in the 54 total minutes they’ve played on the court this season, compiling a +1.7 NetRtg, but they’ve been a mixed bag. Specifically, there’s been inconsistencies with the two main scorers of the bunch: Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks.

Though Blatche has been great, at times extraordinary, this season, Thursday night’s loss to the Bulls was not a good showing: playing just 11 minutes and turning it over four times. Defensively, Brooks is consistently bad, and offensively, Brooks’s game is marred with turnovers and questionable decision-making. The Nets’ second unit has to dominate Charlotte’s.

3) Trap game. Yes, I said it — the 18-58 Charlotte Bobcats could present a trap game. The Nets should win tonight (I don’t like to think about what’ll happen if they don’t), but it may not be as easy as you might think.

Dirty secret: Charlotte is actually playing well… for their standards. Over their last 10 games, they are 4-6, and of those 6 losses, only two have come by more than 10 points. Maybe nothing that will give the Nets pause, but they’re not stinking up the joint every night. The fact that they are just 6-32 on the road this season, with their last road win coming nearly a month ago over Orlando, doesn’t quite signal that they are ready to take down Brooklyn in Brooklyn. But they do have a young core that’s playing well (again, for their standards) lately.

Besides, you never know what a player will do in their homecoming: point guard Kemba Walker is from the Bronx and will surely have many family and friends attending tonight’s game.