Feb 29, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) is defended by Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) during an NBA game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Since Jeremy Lin went down with his hamstring injury, it’s been bleak for Brooklyn. As the days have gone on, the snowball of mediocrity has gotten bigger and bigger. The Nets’ 4-5 record is a thing of the past, and seven-straight losses overshadow any good that’s been accomplished.
The first loss of this skid came to this very same Clippers squad, who utterly dismantled the Nets and pummeled them by 32 on their November 14 matchup. Adding insult to injury, Los Angeles wasn’t the only team to pulverize Brooklyn, and they have five other losses on this streak that have come by more than 17 points.
Contrarily, the Clippers have been incredible. With the league’s fourth-best record at 14-4, Los Angeles is looking like a title contender, and they’re one of the NBA’s best teams on both sides of the ball.
Nov 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) reacts after scoring against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
A major reason why Brooklyn got smacked so badly in the first meeting was the lack of Lopez. He was held out due to rest. Without him, the Nets lose their best player, of course, but it takes away from their ability to compete.
Lopez has been hot as of late and is averaging 20.5 points over his last six games. Although it’s not earth-shattering, he’s nailing 42 percent of his threes and making nearly three per game. If the Clippers read the scouting report, and I’m sure they will, one of two things will happen: Blake Griffin will guard Lopez, or DeAndre Jordan will. Regardless, the floor opens up.
Griffin is having his best defensive season ever, and Jordan is still running for the league’s best rim protector.
They are now in a position where they must respect Lopez’s ability to shoot, opening up the driving lanes for Sean Kilpatrick, Isaiah Whitehead, Yogi Ferrell and any other slashing guard. It’s paramount that all the guys who are struggling get easy shots to try to get themselves on track. Although the shots won’t be “easy” per say, they’ll be easier because the Clippers will have one interior presence on the perimeter.
Shoot Fewer Threes
The Nets are not a good three-point shooting team. Yes, they shoot a lot (34.4, third in the league) and they make a lot (11.4, fourth in the league), but their percentage is dreadful. At 33.1 percent, Brooklyn is 25th in the NBA, and that’s not good for the offense.
Their focus should be on attacking the basket and looking to draw fouls. In the games the Nets have won, they average 32.5 threes shot per game, and they make them at a 39 percent clip; in losses, it’s 35 attempts at a 31 percent mark. If they weren’t 4-12, this would be fine.
Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be tough for Brooklyn to get on the scoreboard against a stout Clippers defense. The least they can do is avoid launching threes and attempts to get a shot close to the basket, so the defense has something to worry about.
Players To Watch:
Brooklyn: Trevor Booker – 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals over his last four games
Los Angeles: Chris Paul – 17.5 points, 8.6 assists, 2.8 steals on the season
Nov 14, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick (6) and forward Trevor Booker (35) grab a rebound against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
It’ll be interesting to see how Doc Rivers matches-up his two front court stars against Lopez. Griffin is more capable on the perimeter than Jordan is, while DJ is better suited to play down low. Rivers also has to account for Trevor Booker, who’s much more athletic and explosive than Lopez is.
On the defensive end for the Nets, it’s likely to see Lopez take on Jordan because Griffin would give him fits with his much-improved array of moves on offense.
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