Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls Pre-Game Report

Oct 31, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Trevor Booker (35) brings the ball up the court as Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) defends during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets look to keep it going as they travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bulls.

Now over two months into the regular season, the Brooklyn Nets have failed to win two straight games. However, they have a chance to accomplish this feat on Wednesday when they play the Chicago Bulls on the road.

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This season has been nothing short of ugly for the Nets and their fans. While the team was expected to be bad, there was a glimmer of hope that the Nets would shock everyone and have somewhat of a solid season. Even with this hint of hope, the Nets sit just one game above the worst team in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Nets have been given a chance to make their mark on Wednesday against a very solid Bulls team. Chicago ranks seventh in the Eastern Conference, just a game below the .500 mark.

The Bulls are a better team than their record would seem to indicate. This will be nothing less short of a challenging game for the Nets, especially considering the fact that they are on the road.

But hey, if nothing else, Nets’ center Brook Lopez will get to reunite with his twin brother and Bulls’ center Robin Lopez.

Dec 18, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) moves the ball upcourt during the third quarter of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers won the game 108-107. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Nets’ Keys To Victory

Contain the Bulls’ Star Trio

The Bulls are a pretty well rounded team. From the point guard, Rajon Rondo, to the worst player in their starting lineup, Robin Lopez, the Bulls don’t necessarily have a weak link. Now, Robin Lopez is nowhere near the level of Brook Lopez, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t an essential part to the Bulls game plan. He certainly helps on defense, averaging 7.5 rebound and 1.7 blocks per game. Don’t overlook starting power forward, Taj Gibson, who averages 12.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

Even with good big-men, it is the Bulls’ smalls that the Nets need to worry about.

Small forward Jimmy Butler leads the way for the Bulls with 24 points, 4.3 assists, 6.5 rebounds and  1.6 steals per game. The task of dealing with Butler is especially tough for opposing teams. He’s one of the best defenders in the NBA, and he presents problems for teams with offensive ability as well.

Veteran Dwyane Wade isn’t too shabby either. In his 14th season, Wade is tallying 19.2 points, 3.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Just like his counterpart Butler, Wade is a great defender and will be sure to give the Nets troubles offensively.

Finally, Rondo makes for the cherry on top of this group of players. Dishing out 7.1 assists per game, Rondo is also totaling 7.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. There isn’t necessarily one area where Rondo kills teams. He takes a toll on teams by contributing in each and every area of the game.

It will be tough enough for the Nets to limit these guards offensively. But to try and score the ball will be just as challenging with this trio being so great defensively.

Keep Brook Lopez Going

The Nets have been all over the place offensively this season. Starting off with Jeremy Lin, then looking towards Sean Kilpatrick, it has been a mystery who will show up and score 20 points each night for Brooklyn.

But in the end, we all know Lopez is the guy when it comes to putting points on the scoreboard.

On the season, the center is averaging 20.5 points per game. To add on to that, Lopez is grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. Swatting away 1.9 shots per game, Lopez has been able to contribute in many areas. Most notably, Lopez has extended his range this season, adding the trey-ball to his resume. His seven three-pointers made over the past three games embodies what Lopez has been able to do this season.

The key here is for Lopez to just continue what he has been doing this month. Lopez has put up at least 20 points in all but two games since December 5. On the boards, Lopez is averaging 6.3 rebounds per game over his last six contests, one more rebound than he is averaging all season. Finally, Lopez is averaging 3.2 blocks per game over his last five games, nearly two times the number of shots he is rejecting per game over the course of the season.

The Nets just need Lopez to continue what he has been doing as of late, and they should be able to compete with the Bulls.

Players To Watch

Nets: Bojan Bogdanovic (26 points last game)

Bulls: Rajon Rondo (averaging just 5.5 points per game over his past eight games)

Dec 12, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) brings the ball up the court during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Projected Starters

Nets:

With the Nets having inserted Joe Harris into the starting lineup last game, it is hard to say what lineup Kenny Atkinson will go with against the Bulls. With Lin almost certainly out, Whitehead is in line to get the start. Kilpatrick should continue to start. The wildcard comes in regard to who will start at small forward. Will Harris get the start once again, or will Bogdanovic go back to his normal role? That is a decision Kenny Atkinson will have to make.

Bulls:

Injuries

Nets

Bulls

Key Matchup

Brook Lopez vs. Robin Lopez: This is the obvious pick. It’s the battle of the brothers. Brook and Robin, Robin and Brook. The two meet once again in what will likely be another hard-fought, gritty game. As usual, Brook has the advantage in the scoring department while Robin has the advantage defensively. Brook needs to take full advantage of his brother to give the Nets the best chance at winning this game.

The game will be broadcast at 8:00 PM EST on YES. Join the conversation by tweeting @NetsBlogFS.

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