NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 74:
Brooklyn Nets (42-30) @ Utah Jazz (37-36)
Fifth game in Seven nights, last game of March. #PLAYOFFPUSH
Where do you even begin when it's a game like this. The return of the prodigal son, our last All-Star, our last All-NBA player, our last Olympian . . . as a visitor. This season he hasn't been killing it, only 18.2 ppg, 7.6 apg, 1.0 spg, getting to the line only 4.5 times a game, making 2.1 threes at only 37.3 3pt%. The largest drop off has been his shooting, which to his credit, has finally rebounded from when he was traded. (First year as a Net it was 34.9%, then 40.7%, and now 43.0%)
D-Will has been very good in March, as he's turning it up for his team's own playoff push. It will be repeating my Downbeat from today, but it is worth repeating -- D-Will is kinda back to form. Which is dangerous for us. In the three games he's played against the Jazz he is shooting only 31.3 fg%, and averaging 15.7 ppg and 7.0 apg.
In Utah (1 game) those numbers nose-dive to 16 points off of 15 shots (Al Jefferson territory there), and as many turn overs as assists. Tonight will be his redemptative game, as his revenge game was a flop.
Deron Williams isn't alone here. After all, he's the only PG on the floor who can boast he's playing with an All-Star back to the basket big. Brook Lopez is the real deal on offense. This season he's scoring 19.1 ppg off of 51.9 fg% while getting to the line 5.2 times per game. As a point of oh so direct comparison, "real deal" back to the basket Al is averaging 17.4 ppg off of 48.4 fg%, while getting to the line 2.8 times a game. Advantage D-Will's team there.
The Nets may be without Joe Johnson (missed last game), so Deron is going to be even more motivated to carry his team. They lost to Denver last night so that can't HURT his motivation to show us up tonight.
This could work in our advantage because I'd say we have the clear cut advantages from Roster Spot 4 to 11 on the Nets -- though we will be without Enes Kanter. (Boo!)
Looking at the teams, the Nets are #11 in DREB%, and #2 in lowest FT to FGA ratio. They don't foul or send you to the line; and they are quite good at protecting their glass. They're also #3 in OREB% -- so they seem to gobble up any misses. (What else do you expect from a Reggie Evans / Brook Lopez / Andray Blatche / Kris Humphries / Gerald Wallace team?) They can be turn over prone, but play at the second slowest pace of play. That minimizes their sloppiness in a way.
They have the 5th best defense in terms of PPG, and 8th best offense in terms of Offensive Rating. They are a good club that could still make a push for #3 in the East.
We, well, we're the Jazz. We know who we are right now and should and can almost expect anything from our players. They're consistently inconsistent. One night any one of our guys will kill it, or be just as likely to play poorly. Last night we were saved by Mo Williams and Paul Millsap doing it. We're going to need a more focused effort from everyone tonight; especially as this is the 5th game in 7 nights.
If I was going tonight I would try to remember all the great times we had together, instead of booing D-Will. The classy thing would be for the Jazz to play a 'best moments of' video on the screen like some of the classier franchises do when a former player returns. I don't expect our Jazz to do that.