Maybe a new home and look will get the Brooklyn Nets over the
hump against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Nets go for their first win in this series in nearly four
years as they host the Bucks on Sunday night.
Milwaukee has won the past 11 meetings, with its last loss
coming March 3, 2009, but those all came when the Nets were based
in New Jersey. Those games also were before Brooklyn’s offseason
additions of Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche – two of its top four
It seems the Nets (11-7) have a decent chance to end the drought
this season, on pace to finish with a better record than the Bucks
(9-9) for the first time since 2007-08.
However, Brooklyn enters this matchup trying to snap a
three-game losing streak, the last two at Barclays Center. The Nets
had won five straight before the skid, which continued with a
109-102 loss to Golden State on Friday.
Their impressive 11-4 start was anchored by defense. They held
opponents to 90.4 points per game during that span, but that number
is 109.3 over the last three.
The Nets’ last three opponents shot a combined 53.8 percent from
the field, including 43.4 percent 3-point shooting.
“Our problem is defense,” coach Avery Johnson said. “We are not
the same team defensively. We have to get back and figure it out.
We have to get our team out of this defensive funk.”
The loss of 7-foot center Brook Lopez could be partially to
blame. Lopez, averaging a career-high 2.5 blocks, has missed the
last four games with a sprained right foot and is likely out
Sunday. He performed more agility and shooting drills Saturday and
was pain free but is still considered day-to-day.
Blatche has played well taking Lopez’s place in the lineup,
averaging 18.8 points in his first four starts of the season.
Blatche had 22 points with a season-high 15 rebounds Friday, and
Johnson scored a season-best 32, but Brooklyn wasted a 13-point
lead in the first half. A week earlier, the team blew a 14-point
advantage in a loss to Miami.
“We’ve had similar games like this all season where we get out
to a lead and really can’t hang on to it,” said Deron Williams, who
has 56 points over the last two games.
Milwaukee is also struggling after a surprising 6-2 start. The
Bucks have dropped seven of 10, even with Friday’s 108-93 home win
Their second-highest scoring total of the season and first
100-point performance since Nov. 21 was a welcome shift. Milwaukee
averaged 91.9 points in its previous nine games after putting up
101.0 per game in the first eight.
Leading scorers Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings were held to a
combined 28 points on 8-of-27 shooting Friday, but the Bucks
improved to 5-0 when Jennings has at least eight assists.
Ersan Ilyasova stepped up with season highs of 21 points and 12
rebounds, and Marquis Daniels scored a season-best 18 in his fourth
Daniels was 3 of 3 from beyond the arc and has hit his last four
after starting 1 for 12.
“They kept telling me to look to shoot the ball, look to score,”
he said. “It opened it up for the other guys.”
Mike Dunleavy, averaging 10.8 points but held below double
figures in his last five, could miss a third consecutive game due
to a bruised left knee.
Jennings averaged 27.0 points in Milwaukee’s three-game sweep