Pistons-Nets Preview

The Brooklyn Nets still don’t know who they’ll play in the first

round of the playoffs, but they hope to be fully rested and healthy

once it starts.

With the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed locked up, the Nets

will go for their first season sweep of the Detroit Pistons in

franchise history and sixth win in seven games overall Wednesday

night in Brooklyn.

Even with starters Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Reggie Evans and

Joe Johnson getting the night off, the Nets (48-33) rallied from a

17-point deficit to beat Washington 106-101 on Monday.

Andray Blatche had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Kris

Humphries scored a season-high 20 with nine boards as part of the

Nets’ makeshift lineup. Both big men started for the first time

since December.

“Even though we had already clinched the playoffs and it didn’t

matter whether we win or lose, we wanted to win that game,” said

Tyshawn Taylor, who had a season-high 14 points and hit a key

3-pointer with 22 seconds left.

As Blatche played a season-high 38 minutes, Humphries played 34

after averaging less than 16 over his previous nine games.

“We’re not going to be successful in the playoffs unless we get

the Kris Humphries that we know,” coach P.J. Carlesimo said of his

former starting power forward. “It was a big step for him.”

While it’s unclear if Blatche and Humphries will be in the

lineup again for Lopez and Evans, Gerald Wallace could get a second

straight start as he continues to work his way back from a heel

injury. Wallace had two points in 22 minutes against the Wizards

after missing the previous two games.

“Hopefully if he comes out of it well tomorrow, we can play him

more on Wednesday,” Carlesimo said.

Carlesimo’s club will play either Chicago or Atlanta to open the

playoffs. Brooklyn has split four games with the Hawks and has

dropped three of four to the Bulls.

First, the Nets will try to sweep Detroit for the first time in

their 36-year history.

After winning the first two meetings by a combined five points,

Brooklyn led by as many as 43 in a 119-82 rout at Detroit on March

18 behind Williams’ 31 points.

Johnson scored a team-high 28 points and made a jumper as time

expired in the second overtime to give the Nets a 107-105 victory

in the last meeting in Brooklyn on Dec. 14.

While there is some uncertainty surrounding the future of the

franchise, the Pistons (29-52) have put together one of their best

stretches at the end of an otherwise disappointing season.

Greg Monroe had 27 points and 16 rebounds as Detroit beat

Philadelphia 109-101 on Monday to match a season high with its

fourth straight win.

Before the game, Pistons owner Tom Gores remained noncommittal

on the status of coach Lawrence Frank and team president Joe

Dumars.

“At the end of the day, this is our job,” said Monroe, averaging

19.6 points this month. “When you step on the court, you have to

play, and that’s what I focus on. There’s always going to be stuff

that happens off the court.”

Now the Pistons look to close the season by winning five in a

row for the first time since Dec. 4-12, 2009.

Detroit has averaged 108.0 points and made 44.2 percent from

3-point range during its four-game win streak, compared to 92.3 and

17.6 percent (9 of 51) in its three losses to the Nets.