Jan 15, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee (24) moves against Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Portland Trail Blazers won 116-104. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
On their road trip, the Brooklyn Nets stayed competitive with the Lakers and Thunder after being blown out by the red hot Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the week. The Nets finished their west coast trip 1-3 overall, with their only victory coming against the Phoenix Suns. Brooklyn will now look to put an end to their longest losing streak of the season while having their home crowd behind them.
Brook Lopez has particularly been on his game recently after putting up 32 in OKC and 22 at the Staples Center against the Lakers. In those games, Lopez attempted a whopping 18 three-pointers with eight of them finding the bottom of the net.
Portland is also currently on a three-game losing streak, sitting at 7-7 on the season. With high expectations of making the postseason once again looming, the Trail Blazers will need to get back on track before they fall too far behind in the Western Conference. A big statement win against the Nets to begin their three-game East Coast trip would be a huge boost of confidence.
Nov 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) reacts after hitting a three point shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nets’ Keys to Victory
Continue Firing Away
The Nets have currently attempted the third-most three-pointers of any team in the NBA this season, and today’s game is not the time to hold back.
The Trail Blazers, led by one of the best backcourts in the league (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum), are currently putting up 106.7 points per contest, which ranks well within the top half of the league. One of the best strategies the Nets can employ to compete with that number is simply doing what they have been known for this season: shooting at will.
If the Nets’ defense breaks down in yet another game, then it become even more imperative for Brooklyn to be on point from three-point range in this contest. Despite their high number of threes attempted per game, the team as a whole is rather streaky shooting the ball. They are only making 32 percent of their threes, which lands them at 23rd in the NBA.
If the Nets can get five or more threes from Bojan Bogdanovic and a couple more from Brook Lopez, then they should be in the driver’s seat in the three-point battle over the course of the afternoon.
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Containing Portland’s Backcourt
It’s no secret that the Trail Blazers run their entire offense solely through two players: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. These two players account for 50 points per game combined. After Lillard’s 28.7 points per game and McCollum’s 22.1 points per game, the next highest scorer on the roster in Maurice Harkless, who is only averaging 11.6 points per contest.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s tenacity on defense will be able to contain McCollum from erupting for 30 or more points, which leaves the question of: who will match up with Lillard? In addition, Lillard is putting up his sky-high scoring numbers while shooting 50 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
Sean Kilpatrick will most likely get the assignment first, but it can be assumed that Kenny Atkinson will be quick to try other options such as Isaiah Whitehead, if Lillard begins heating up. However, given the Nets’ defensive issues as a whole, they would be lucky to hold Lillard under his scoring average.
Nov 15, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) during a NBA basketball game at Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Nets 125-118. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nets: PG: Sean Kilpatrick SG: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF: Bojan Bogdanovic PF: Trevor Booker C: Brook Lopez
This is a classic perimeter scorer vs. hard-nosed defender contest. Even though the height discrepancy between the two might make this matchup a little one-sided, there is no doubt fans will get a few good battles out of McCollum and RHJ.