Pregame Open Thread: New Jersey Nets vs. Washington Wizards

On Sunday, the Nets take on the Wizards in the nation’s capital in a matinee game at 1 PM eastern. Coming off Friday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, in what was a pathetic defensive performance, the Nets look to bounce back as the season begins to wind down:

Coping Without Deron Williams: Deron Williams might not be shut down for the season just yet, as the team continues to weigh options with regard to its dealings with his ailing wrist, but he’s unlikely to play Sunday against the Wizards. As a result, the Nets are going to have difficulty defensively with John Wall. Expect that Sundiata Gaines will earn increased minutes over Jordan Farmar, both because of his inspiring play recently and also because of his athleticism, which bodes well in dealing with Wall’s explosiveness.

Brook Lopez’s Improvement: The Wizards’ frontcourt is fairly pathetic, as Javale McGee and Andray Blatche are not much of a formidable tandem (Rashard Lewis continues to sit out with an injured knee). As a result, expect Brook Lopez to have a standout game on the offensive end, taking advantage of the youth and inexperience of McGee and Blatche. Without Williams in the lineup, offensive excellence from Lopez will be key to a Nets’ win.

After all, It’s the Wizards: There haven’t been many games this season in which the Nets have been favored. This is one of them. The Wizards are flat-out terrible, even when they play in the Verizon Center, and the Nets should come in the mindset that nothing but a win is acceptable. Sure, Wall and Nick Young provide a formidable scoring punch in the backcourt, but aside from that, there are very few redeeming qualities for Washington’s team. If the Nets can play even average basketball, they will likely come away with a win on the road.