Brooklyn Nets vs. Houston Rockets Pre-Game Report

Dec 8, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) at the net during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 110-105. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have been struggling all season, but it won’t get any easier when they go to Houston to play the Rockets. A lot needs to go right for them to find a win, but they will hopefully make it interesting, as they usually do.

It’s no secret: the Brooklyn Nets have been struggling this season, sitting at 6-16 and staying at the fourteenth spot in the Eastern Conference. After a nice win against the Denver Nuggets, it looked as though they had some sort of momentum, but immediately got shut down by the San Antonio Spurs.

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This month, the Nets have not gotten off to a great start. They’ve already played five games and have come out on a top in only one of them. We are all still waiting for a game where the Nets outplay their opponent for a full four quarters and come out with an easy win. Their most impressive win was against the Phoenix Suns, winning by an 18-point margin, but aside from that, every game has come down to within 10.

The Rockets have been one of the hottest teams in basketball, grabbing all six of their games to start the month, which has been all of their six-game winning streak. They have one of the most explosive offenses in the league while getting support from a solid defense, so it isn’t a game that the Nets want to be a part of, especially away from home. They are tied for third in the Western Conference.

The Nets took both games against the Rockets last season, but don’t have the greatest history against this team. Since the 2006-07 season, the Nets are 3-16 against Houston, so we can only hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.

Dec 8, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Wayne Ellington (21) rises to the net during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 110-105. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Nets’ Keys to Victory

There is a lot that the Nets need to turn around to even stand a chance against the 17-7 Rockets. Here are just a few:

Defense

I don’t know how many times they need to get blown out before Brooklyn begins to realize that defense is their biggest problem and they need to work on it. I can’t be nice about it anymore. It’s terrible. They are literally the worst team by a 1.9 point margin per game. That’s unacceptable. If you want to be a playoff-contending team, you can’t allow the points they are. This should be their number one concern.

Hold Onto The Ball

I mean this in a couple of ways. For one, don’t turn the ball over. The Nets have turned the ball over 16.9 times per game–the worst in the league being 17, so they might as well be the worst. Work on holding onto the ball and keeping it in your possession. The more you turn the ball over, the more opportunities you give to the opposing team to score. I also mean that they need to work on their time of possession. If they hold onto the ball longer, it gives their opponents less possessions and less opportunities to score.

Spread The Ball Around

This works directly to the time of possession issue. There are a lot of playmakers on this team, so the Nets need to give everybody opportunities to score. This can also tire out the defense. Brooklyn is just getting rid of the ball without making the defense work for it. The Nets have the second-most possessions per game at 105.7, so they need to do more with what they have. They aren’t producing the way they need to, and having the ball this often during the game should entitle different results in games. The way I see it is that the more they are getting the ball, the more their opponents are getting the ball and producing during the games.

Players To Watch

Brooklyn Nets: Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic has proven his worth to the Nets this season and has stepped up in a big way for the last few games. Over the last seven games, he is averaging 17.3 points and through the last four games, he is averaging 20.3. Having a player like that with the rest of the depth the Nets have on their team bodes well for their future endeavors, but without the defense, these numbers aren’t helping.

Houston Rockets: James Harden

It seems like just yesterday when James Harden was playing as the sixth man for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he has really come into his own with the Rockets. He is a candidate for the MVP this year, which will have a lot of competition, and rightfully so. Harden is always a threat on offense, whether his defensive play is up to par or not, averaging 27.8 points per game this season. He is going to be a nightmare Monday night.

Dec 8, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Projected Starters

Nets:

Jeremy Lin is also probable to play, but there’s no telling what his role will be.

Rockets:

Key Matchups:

Bojan Bogdanovic vs. James Harden

These are my two players to watch in this game, and it will be an interesting one to watch. Bogdanovic will have his hands full all game with the superstar, and it will come down to who scores the most points.

Jeremy Lin vs. Eric Gordon

This one is only applicable if Lin plays. Like I said, there’s no telling how big of a role he will play for the team. The matchup is solely there for Lin to see how he performs because if he proves he is still a force, then it will show how the future will look for the Nets. Him returning to the team can turn this season around.

This will definitely be an interesting game regardless of what happens, because it will show what this team is made of. Maybe if they show up to this game, they can make something happen before the end of the season.

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

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