Tonight, a snakebitten New Jersey Nets team will go head-to-head in New Jersey against a not-so-snakebitten Golden State Warriors team. The Nets are missing three – count ’em, three – starters, having fallen prey to two concussions (Anthony Morrow, Damion James) and one baby (Deron Williams). On top of that, Jordan Farmar will be starting in Deron’s place, and Farmar is just returning from an ankle injury. Also, Quinton Ross is out, so there’s that. Golden State doesn’t have any injuries at all, but are much worse on the road (9-22) than the Nets are at home (13-16). The Nets are trotting out an ugly starting five tonight, but they’ve definitely still got a chance.
Here are a few things to look out for in tonight’s game:
Keep the wings outside. The Warriors are built around their two-guard tandem, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. Both of these guys are excellent at getting into the lane and finding spot-up shooters (including each other). Curry specifically is a much better shooter from beyond the arc through spot-ups and off-ball screens than he is in isolation or through the pick & roll, so if the Nets can prevent the penetration, they can force the Warriors into taking bad shots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nets experiment with a 2-3 zone at times to keep guys out of the middle, although they’d have to work to get out to shooters.
Keep your own bigs inside. The Warrior bigs are as bad as the guards are good. Listen to these figures for a moment: out of all 30 teams in the NBA, the Warriors offensively are 27th in the post, 25th on the roll part of PNR’s, and 30th at scoring off offensive rebounds. They’re better defensively, but not by much. If the Warriors are forced to go inside with their bigs, it will not end well for them.
Adjust. Not having Deron Williams around stinks. No way around it. The Nets can’t sit around and hope someone else makes the offense go. At the same time, the Nets still need to run their sets. They can’t sit around and let someone shoot them out of the game with poorly run isolations. (But really, is there such a thing as a well-run isolation? It’s “give one guy the ball and get out of the way,” otherwise known as “a paragon of inefficiency.”)
For more news & analysis on the Golden State Warriors, be sure to check out TrueHoop sister site Warriors World.
Note: After this thread was posted, Nets Basketball posted a video of Anthony Morrow stating he will be available and playing for tonight’s game.