Pregame Open Thread: New Jersey Nets @ Milwaukee Bucks

The Nets (22-44) follow-up their physical match-up with the Bulls in Newark last night with a road trip to Wisconsin to take on the Milwaukee Bucks (26-41). Here are some keys to tonight’s game:

Leapfrog Time: If the Nets are seriously about to go on some kind of miracle run to close the season and sneak into the playoffs, this is a game they simply can’t lose. The Bucks stand 3.5 games up on the Nets in the Eastern Conference and despite winning 7 straight games against New Jersey, they’ve been mostly middling this season. With a number of high quality teams still left on the Nets’ schedule, they can’t afford to slip against another under .500 team tonight, if the talk about Playoffs is to be taken seriously.

Overcoming Another Good Defense: The Bulls have the best defense in the league, but it doesn’t get much easer for the Nets tonight. The Bucks, despite having one of the worst offenses in the league, are 4th in Defensive Efficiency and 3rd in points allowed. They’re also 6th in opponent field goal percentage. The Nets (especially Jordan Farmar) were struggling trying to score from the perimeter last night and while I’d like to say to them just take better shots, the truth is the Nets are going to have to shoot much, much better than 35 percent to get a W tonight. If they do, Milwaukee is obviously easy to outscore which is how games are actually won unless the rules have been changed on me.

Can the Brookie Monster Maintain?: Brook Lopez’s March has been nothing short of spectacular, averaging 25.2 points on 56 percent shooting (we’ll ignore the rebounds, but even that’s up to 7.7. a game). But Brook is going against an old-nemesis, Andrew Bogut. Brook is averaging 15.5 points in his two other match-ups against Milwaukee, third lowest for Lopez against any team this season. Last year, Brook only averaged 9 points per game against the Bucks. Bogut has been consistently good against the Nets, so Lopez needs to outplay him tonight.