Pregame 3-on-3: Nets-Pacers, 7 P.M. Open Thread


Tonight, the 7-14 Nets travel west to take on the 13-6 Indiana Pacers, who blew them out of the Prudential Center to start this month. The Pacers boast the league’s seventh-best defense per possession and have allowed under 85 points at home four out of six tries — the fifth an overtime game, and the sixth their one home loss.

The Pacers boast an even, intelligent attack, reliant upon ball movement, spacing, and the success of starting center Roy Hibbert. The Nets stagger their way to an offense night in and night out and only know a good defense when one rotates into their faces. Additionally, the Nets will only suit ten tonight; they’re down DeShawn Stevenson, MarShon Brooks, and Mehmet Okur, along with the old standbys of the injured list Brook Lopez and Damion James. The Pacers are missing Jeff Foster.

Here to talk more with Justin and I about this Eastern Conference matchup is friend of the site and former #NASTV guest Tim Donahue of 8 Points, 9 Seconds.

1. The Nets win this game if…

  • Justin DeFeo: They get a total team effort. It’s no secret now that Deron Williams needs to have ESPN Classic worthy performances nightly for the Nets to compete, but it can’t be just him. The ball movement and energy that we saw in victories over Philadelphia and Cleveland needs to return in order for the Nets to win this one. It’s certainly nothing a day of practice and re-focusing couldn’t fix.
  • Devin Kharpertian: A fracture in our space-time continuum opens and everything the Pacers know about playing defense gets sucked into it. That, or Deron Williams scores at least 30 efficient points and the spot-up shooters — burdened with bigger importance with Brooks out — can knock down the shots D-Will creates.
  • Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Deron Williams can dominate Darren Collison and George Hill, if the Nets as a whole can hit more than 10 threes, and if New Jersey posts an ORB% of over 30%. All of these things slow down the game, dragging the Pacer offense into a half court slog fest. New Jersey is a poor-to-bad defensive team, but Indy’s offense tends to stagnate if it runs to slow, keeping almost any opponent close.


2. The Pacers win this game if…

  • Justin DeFeo: They just do what they do. The Pacers have enough height and length to bother the Nets shooters and make Deron’s forays into the paint especially treacherous. Offensively, the wing tandem of Paul George and Danny Granger could give the Nets fits, especially since they will be particularly thin in those spots with DeShawn Stevenson and MarShon Brooks out.
  • Devin Kharpertian: They don’t forget they’re the Pacers. The Nets are a surprisingly good team on the road — considering how much they’ve complained about home — but the Pacers are a superior overall team even without home-court advantage. The Pacers chew up excitable, poor defenses, and the Nets haven’t proven they’re above that.
  • Tim Donahue: They play defense the way folks in Indiana have come to expect – particularly at home. In six home games, the Pacers have allowed their guests to score over 90 points per 100 possessions only once (against Orlando). Through the first 39 minutes of the 108-94 win in Newark, Indiana held the Nets to 101 per 100 while carving out an 18-point lead.


3. And the winner is…

  • Justin DeFeo: Pacers. Put it this way: Indy could probably afford to play their C+ game and still beat the Nets, while nothing short of an A will get it done for New Jersey. Pacers have more talent, more weapons and are playing at home. I could see this one potentially getting ugly.
  • Devin Kharpertian:Indiana. I don’t see the Nets pulling off an upset here — Indiana’s one of those teams that’s frighteningly consistent. They’ve lost just twice to teams below .500 this season, and both of those losses occurred on the road. With few exceptions, they beat inferior teams and struggle with superior teams. Tonight most likely isn’t an exception.
  • Tim Donahue: The Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have won in LA, in Chicago, and in Orlando over the last week. I know there’s the whole “any given Sunday” thing ,but Indy should just handle a team like New Jersey when playing at home.