Game Time: 4:30 p.m. TV: Comcast
Charlotte, Chicago, New York, L.A., Charlotte again.
The itinerary for the Riverdance 15th Anniversary Farewell Tour?
Guess again. Those are the teams the New Jersey Nets have beaten this year. And not in a "They beat the Knicks three times" kind of way either. That's the complete list of the five games the Nets have won this season. (The "L.A." stands for Clippers, in case there was any doubt.) How bad is that? Take your pick:
1. It threatens an NBA record for futility pretty much regarded as unassailable, the 9-73 performance of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76'ers.
2. Second-year center Brook Lopez won more games in two years at Stanford than he has (or will) in two years with the Nets.
We're talking historically bad here.
But that's what you get when you marry the worst offensive efficiency in the league with a slow pace and throw in the 28th best defensive efficiency on top of it. Oh, and you can't rebound, you turn the ball over, you can't shoot from any range outside of Lopez', you don't score on the break, you don't score in the paint, you allow opponents to run on you whenever they want...I could go on. I've searched high and low for something positive to say about the Nets as a team. They shoot a mean free throw. That's it. If you can avoid sending them to the line 100 times in a game you have a good chance to win. I'm not exaggerating.
The Nets do have individual talent. We've mentioned center Brook Lopez twice now. He's the great (only?) hope for the future. He's tough, has a nice offensive game, draws a lot of fouls, and rebounds decently. Even admitting he doesn't have a ton to work with, Devin Harris is having a poor season. His shooting percentages are in the toilet. He draws enough fouls to keep his scoring average up and his 6.7 assists per game deserve a standing ovation on a team that can't hit a shot. The rest of the team bundled together shouldn't cause you any worry if you're playing right.
Playing right is going to be the challenge for the Blazers tonight. They have to put the Utah game out of their heads completely and realize that they have no margin for error in games like this. If they want to make the playoffs they're going to have to win road games against teams behind them in the standings. This game qualifies. If the Blazers come out dispirited and uncoordinated they can still lose. When teams get the bit in their mouth they tend to run away with games. Almost every player on that miserable New Jersey roster has had at least one or two superstar-level outings in their career. Don't let them remember that tonight, let alone reenact it, and you should come away victorious. If you lose this game and make it onto the 2009-10 Nets Opponent Wall of Shame woe be unto you.
Normally I link you to the SBN blog representing Portland's opponent but--surprise, surprise--the Nets still don't have one. With that winning percentage I doubt they'll be developing fine grassroots writing soon. Perhaps somebody will start WelcomeJohnWall.com? Entertain yourself with other suggestions in the meantime.
Update: The good folks from NetsDaily inform us that they're on the way into the fold. You can check them out. Please, no trolling. They've suffered enough this season, eh?
Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.