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Game 17 Preview: Nets vs. Blazers

Game Time:  7:00 p.m. Pacific  TV:  Comcast

I'm going to list three names for you.  You tell me what they have in common.

  • Chris Douglas-Roberts
  • Brook Lopez
  • Courtney Lee

If you said "The girls from the Channel 7 Eyewitness Reports Squad" you're wrong!  They're actually NBA players.  They play for the Nets, which means they've been playing like the girls from the Channel 7 Eyewitness Reports Squad.  But that's another story.

The Nets come into Portland having not won a game this year.  Period.  0-14.  That's pretty sick, and not in the hip way.  Except for managing a virtual tie in blocked shots and offensive rebounds they're getting beaten, usually handily, in every statistical category you can name.  They're scoring 85 a night and averaging a double-digit loss.  They're shooting 40 points lower than their opponents from the field, 65 points lower from three.  Their offensive efficiency doesn't even register on the scale.  The Blazers have played some woeful offensive teams lately.  Chicago is 27th in the league, Charlotte (remember how pitiful that offensive lineup was?) is 5 points below them, another point down is Minnesota, but New Jersey comes in almost 2 points behind the ‘Wolves.  This isn't just an issue of slow pace creating low scores.  They've really been that bad.

Despite that there are reasons to be cautious of this team right now.  The aforementioned Courtney Lee and point guard Devin Harris have been injured for most of the season.  Both are back now.  That alone should give the Nets a shot in the arm, Harris offensively, Lee defensively.  Chris Douglas-Roberts has flourished since the injuries gave him extra shots.  Both he and center Brook Lopez have given the Blazers trouble in the past.  Lopez is not your prototypical offensive center but he too has been striking gold with the extra looks, scoring 26 against the Pacers (off of 27 shots!)  He's a good rebounder some nights.  He's tough and mean every night.

The Nets' main mistake in the last couple of years has been banking on mediocre (or worse) acquisitions to bolster their top players.  Witness Rafer Alston (an offensive guy shooting 33%), Yi Jianlian (not exactly setting the world on fire and now out with an injury),  Trenton Hassell (a defensive specialist who's not as good at defending as he used to be), Bobby Simmons (another offensive marvel barely clearing 35%), Eduardo Najera (an energy guy who's out of energy), Sean Willams (what?!?), Josh Boone (who?!?), and Jarvis Hayes (blech, and also injured).  It's the Island of Misfit Toys.  Except I don't think even Rudolph and Herbie could find good homes for these guys.  I'm guessing somebody in Nets management was a bad, bad boy, or at least wasn't vigilant in guarding the chimney.  "I fell asleep!  What did Santa bring me???  Oh Je...eepers.  Did he leave the receipts?"

The basic strategy against the Nets is to not let anybody have a big night who really, really shouldn't.  If their main guys score a little, so be it.  Even between them they'll have a hard time getting to 100.  It's happened once this year...against the Wizards.  Hanging your hat on that is like boasting that you got a free meal at the Salvation Army.  That's really nice for you, but psst...I have something to tell you.  Meanwhile you need to respect their defense enough that you work for a good shot instead of just assuming you're going to beat them with whatever you throw up.  They're fractured right now and they're just in the beginning stages of trying to put things back together.  Make them make decisions as a team and depend on each other and you should see good results.

Pivotal Points to the Game

1.  Don't take it for granted.  They're going to win their first one sometime.

2.  Almost nobody on this team is a good distance shooter.  Follow the strategy you've been pursuing all year.  Deny the middle, make them score from the edges.  You'll be happy.

3.  They don't share the ball any better than they shoot the ball.  Your first guess should always be that the scorer holding the ball right now is going to take the shot.  Plan accordingly.

4.  This should be another night when LaMarcus Aldridge can go to town.  Milk him and keep his spirits high.  Good things will follow.

5.  Two words:  Bench Dominance.  If Portland's reserves don't eat up their Jersey counterparts something is wrong.  Even depleted the Blazer bench ought to be good for a double-digit advantage.

Final Thoughts and Links

I'm looking forward to seeing Oden and Lopez duel.  Let's see if Greg can keep the mojo going.

Check out...check gum, SBN does not have a Nets site to check out.  Quickly, someone start one!  My suggestion is  You can suggest your own names below.

You can enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.

--Dave (