Dec 5, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard sean Kilpatrick (6) dribbles the ball while being defended by Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) during the second half at Barclays Center. The Wizards won 118-113. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
The Brooklyn Nets come into this one fresh off of two crazy close games – they won on a buzzer-beater earlier this week against the Charlotte Hornets (shout-out Randy Foye), and then lost on a buzzer-beater the other night against the Chicago Bulls (shout-out Jimmy Butler).
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Aside from that, the Nets are probably excited to turn the calendar to January 2017 after this one, as they boast an abysmal 8-23 record in the 2016-17 season – including a 3-11 record in the month of December.
Tonight they draw the Washington Wizards, who have turned around their slow start to the season and gained some momentum. After a 6-12 start, the Wizards have gone 9-5 in December and they look a lot like the team we expected them to look like.
However, the bigger story in this one is that Jeremy Lin will not play yet again, after suffering another hamstring setback this week.
This is the second of four matchups between the two teams, coming after a five-point Wizards win back on December 5.
Dec 5, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Trevor Booker (35) dribbles the ball while being defended by Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Keys to the Game
STOP JOHN WALL
This needs to be capitalized, bolded, underlined, italicized, and anything else that will emphasize this.
The Wizards are a very beatable team, but if John Wall is not properly defended, things can go downhill quickly.
In the last game against the Nets, Wall dropped 25 points and added 13 assists and rallied the Wizards to a comeback win.
Besides that, Wall has still been hot, as he’s averaging 24.9 points and 10.4 assists per game in the month of December, which has boosted his team to that 9-5 record this month.
It doesn’t take an NBA analyst to realize that the Nets have to slow this guy down to win. Don’t overthink this one, Nets. Focus your gameplan on stopping this guy.
Play a strong second half
While the old saying “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” is as cliché as it gets, it couldn’t hold more meaning for the Nets.
If we remember back to the December 5 meeting between these two teams, the Nets held a 15-point halftime lead – only to blow it all away and lose by five.
Second half woes have seemed to trouble the Nets this season, and that’s a key reason why they have struggled to the depths they have. If they had held all of their halftime and fourth quarter leads this season, their record would look a lot different.
So again, this one goes without saying – the Nets just have to play a better second half. Knowing that they’ve already blown a 15-point lead to this team this season means that they probably will need a strong second half regardless of what the score is at halftime.
So Nets, do 2016 a favor and close out a game as it closes out on you.
Players to Watch
Wizards: John Wall (G) – 24.9 points per game, 10.4 assists per game in month of December
Nets:Brook Lopez (C) – 22.4 points per game, 52.2 percent from the field in last 10 games
Dec 5, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Trevor Booker (35) takes a shot while being defended by Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports