2012-2013 Game 19 Preview: Nets Still Formidable Without Lopez Vs. Thunder

Three Point shooting, especially from D-Will, could remain a headache for this team. - US PRESSWIRE

After years of meh, Brooklyn Nets fans finally have something to be excited about. But, the constant specter of injuries has continued to plague this team, and could affect the result tonight.

2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (14-4)
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The Brooklyn Nets (11-5)
December 4th, 2012
The Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, New York City, New York State
6:30 PM CST
National Basketball Association Television, Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), Sports Radio 660 AM The Fan
Enemy Blogs: NetsDaily, The Brooklyn Game
Previous Meetings: None.
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Deron Williams
Thabo Sefolosha SG Joe Johnson
Kevin Durant SF Gerald Wallace
Serge Ibaka PF Kris Humphries
Kendrick Perkins C Andray Blatche

When you're a billionaire, no luxury is unobtainable in this world. Even a successful basketball team!

After years of meh, Brooklyn Nets fans finally have something to be excited about. The addition of Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche along with the return of Brook Lopez have proved to be a huge coup for this team. They're well on their way to a solid Eastern playoff seed.

But, the constant specter of injuries has continued to plague this team. Gerald Wallace was out for a good chunk of the early season, and Brook Lopez is ruled out of tonight's game. Lopez is the team's leading scorer and defensive presence in the paint, so his loss definitely hurts. But despite the Nets loss to the Heat this Friday, they're still a formidable force.

Basically, without Lopez, the Nets are going to live and die by the three. In their Lopezless win against the Magic, they were 11-20 from beyond the arc. But in their loss to the Heat, they shot a mere 6-28. Jacking up that number of threes is normal for this team, since all of their wings are serious perimeter threats. But even if you look at the Lopez-era losses, the story is the same. If you can make them shoot badly from three and foul a lot, that the easiest way to make them lose.

The Nets will also be without Reggie Evans tonight, so that could further focus their offense on the outside. With other reserve Tornike Shengelia also out, they'll likely be forced to rely on undrafted rookie Mirza Teletovic, who has a decent outside shot. But he's been less than impressive so far this season, so he could be a potential weakness if the Nets don't go small.

Aside from that, the Nets are a responsible and mature team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes. They are the third best team at avoiding turnovers, the fourth best team at avoiding fouls, and about middle of the pack when it comes to overall rebounding. Their offense is buoyed by solid offensive rebounding and a slower pace.

If you want to talk specifics, the Nets work well when they move the ball and consider everyone on their team a threat to score. Both Humphries and Blatche can use the short-range jumper to their advantage. But they don't like to penetrate and hope someone plays help defense. Rather, they all move around the floor, trying to find an open spot on the floor when the other team tries to hard for a steal.

The Nets generally start to fail when their offense gets lazy. Their passes will become really predictable on the perimeter, their guards will settle into isolation sets, and their bigs will cease to be a factor. In other words, they start jacking it, and their offense suffers. Namely, C.J. Watson and Deron Williams tend to settle for a lot of low percentage looks on the perimeter, so if they can be coaxed into shooting, the more shots the better.

Defensively, the Nets play a lot of tough man-to-man, and don't really rely on steals to get things going. This can prevent the opposing team from getting a lot of open shots, but it also results in a lot of good opportunities down low if the other team can play their cards right.

So, long story short, this is going to be a well-balanced matchup. The Thunder have had huge problems defending the perimeter since their inception, but they're one of the league's best teams when it comes to getting to the line. In other words, both teams will be able to find ways to score tonight, so the team that can compensate for their weaknesses most effectively will get the win. Since the Thunder have the healthier roster, I'm going with them. But really, it's a toss-up.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 109, New Jersey Nets 107.

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.

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