Mar 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in overtime at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The Brooklyn Nets fell to 5-15 on the season after losing to the Washington Wizards and have now lost three games in a row. Coming to town is the Denver Nuggets, who sit at 8-13 on the season.
This is the first of two match-ups these two teams will have against each other this season. The next game will be played in Denver at the end of February. Denver has some solid shooters, and the Nuggets always manage to be competitive.
Like Brooklyn, though, Denver is struggling of late. They are 2-5 in their last seven games, but did win their previous game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Brooklyn is 1-6 in their last seven. Both teams are struggling, but both teams have shown fight.
Brooklyn has always had a rough time with Western Conference foes. They did snag three wins so far this season against the Suns, Timberwolves, and the Clippers. Maybe this is the year they can actually beat a good amount of Western Conference teams. Hopefully Denver is added to the list of victories.
Mar 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Joffrey Lauvergne (77) guards Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Nets defeated the Nuggets 121-120 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Keys to Victory:
1. Give Sean Kilpatrick the ball.
Sean Kilpatrick is on fire. Since Kilpatrick’s slump ended against the Boston Celtics right before Thanksgiving, Kilpatrick has been averaging 21.9 points per game. The stretch of time provided is the last seven games. On the season, Kilpatrick is averaging 16.4 point per game.
Brooklyn has been giving him the ball and letting him shoot, and they need to continue that trend. He will score points, which is something Brooklyn needs in order to win, just like every team. Feed the hot hand.
2. Feed the ball down low.
Brook Lopez and Trevor Booker are great together down low. Lopez, as we all know, is not the greatest rebounder. Booker, though, is an animal. Against the Wizards, Booker grabbed 14 rebounds and even scored 14 points on an efficient 6-of-9 from the field.
If Sean Kilpatrick does not have the ball, one of the big men must. Let them post up the opposition, set up the pass back out, or set yourself up for a foul or an easy bucket. The big men are playing really well right now so, again, feed the hot hand.
3. Play smart offense.
Against the Wizards, Brooklyn committed 22 turnovers. 17 of those 22 came off of steals by the Wizards. Isaiah Whitehead is a rookie and not a true point guard so struggles are to be expected, but he needs to take care of the ball.
Whitehead was not even responsible for the bulk of the turnovers, but, as a point guard, turnovers almost always come back to you. Regardless of whom was responsible for the obscene amount of steals, Brooklyn needs to play smarter.
Do not take as many three’s (it worked against Washington) and make smart passes. Brooklyn needs every opportunity they can get on the offensive end, and the more they possess the ball the less time the Nets’ dismal defense has to be in action. Possess the ball and make smart decisions.
Mar 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) guards Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) in overtime at the Pepsi Center. The Nets defeated the Nuggets 121-120 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Kilpatrick vs. Will Barton. Barton has been killing it the past three games after missing three games. He scored 17, 20, and 22 points in the last three games. Both Kilpatrick and Barton have the hot hand and they will both have the ball a lot. It will be fun to see which one of these two wins the battle for the most points and the most shots attempted.
The 5-15 Nets look to end their losing steak in a very winnable matchup against Denver at home in Brooklyn. Brooklyn has gotten the majority of their wins this season against Western Conference opponents, which is a new thing for the Nets franchise. Denver looks to win a second straight game against an Atlantic Division foe as they defeated the Sixers in their last game.