Pregame Open Thread: New Jersey Nets vs. Houston Rockets

In their final game before the nationally televised throwdown with the New York Knicks on Wednesday, the Nets take on the Houston Rockets at the Prudential Center on Tuesday evening.

Here are a few keys to the game:

Chuck Hayes, Diminutive Post Giant: Chuck Hayes has established himself as one of the league’s finest post defenders in the last couple seasons despite his short stature for the center position. In his last two games, Brook Lopez has looked like utter crap, averaging 8 points and 1 rebound in those two contests. This doesn’t bode well for the Nets center. Expect Lopez to drift on the perimeter more than usual to avoid the immovable object that is Hayes.

One More Game (Likely) Without Deron: Hold on, Nets fans. Deron Williams is almost back. The reports say he’ll possibly play in Wednesday’s game, and if he’s given the choice, he’ll surely step up to the challenge. In the meantime, the Nets will have to deal with Jordan Farmar starting at point guard again. He hasn’t been terrible since Deron went down, but he hasn’t been Deron either. Facing a team that’s smelling the blood in the playoff-race water, the Nets should expect increased intensity from the Rockets, and they will have to match in order to have a chance at winning.

Luis Scola, What Could Have Been: If you’ll recall, the Nets were a serious suitor for Luis Scola’s services in the offseason, and reports indicated they came close to nabbing him before the Rockets matched the Nets’ offer sheet for Scola’s restricted free agency — that was one of many great decisions on Daryl Morey’s long list. He’s having a career year with 18.5 points and 8.1 rebounds, and you wonder where the Nets would be if they’d ended up with him this past summer. Nevertheless, Humphries’ play beyond expectations has helped to ease the pain on missing out on Scola.

For more on the Houston Rockets, check out their TrueHoop blog, Red94.