The Nets return from their mini holiday break tonight with a bang, as they take on the new-look Orlando Magic at home in the Prudential Center.
A few keys to the game for the Nets:
- Identifying and Stopping the New Look: Over the past couple years, the Magic have largely lived and died by the three-pointer. After the latest trades, however, this is even more so the case. Gone are the isolation plays for Vince Carter and the stingy defense from Mickael Pietrus in order to make space for more and more threes. Orlando showed how deadly they can be as a run-and-gun team when they darted out to a 13-0 lead against the Celtics on Saturday afternoon, but they also showed the drawbacks of not playing defense when the Celtics got back in it and held a lead for most of the game. Regardless, if you can hold Dwight Howard to 1-of-4 shooting from the field, you can take what you’re given from the other players. Still, it will be tough to defend the shooters as well as the Celtics did if the Nets are going to double team Howard. The Celtics had the luxury of playing straight-up defense with Shaq and Glen Davis.
- Can Brook Break Through? Brook Lopez has been downright terrible in his career against Superman. Is this the game in which he displays at least an inkling of talent against his larger counterpart? Doubtful. Therefore, the solution to springing Brook for a great game is to put Howard on the bench. Now that Marcin Gortat is in Phoenix, the third man off the bench in the post for the Magic is former Net Ryan Anderson, who plays defense about as well as Travis Outlaw dribbles. Expect big numbers from Lopez if there is ever a Bass-Anderson tandem on the floor for the Magic.
- Keeping Track of Gilbert: Everyone knows that Gilbert Arenas has the capacity to go off for a huge game at any given time. Now that he’s playing a sixth-man role in Orlando, that’s even more likely — he’s playing against second-unit point guards. With that said, it is going to be up to Jordan Farmar for the most part to contain him tonight. While he wasn’t much of a threat a week and a half ago at the Prudential Center, he might get in a groove early tonight and torch the Nets if they aren’t keyed in on him.