Brooklyn Nets (10-50) at Portland Trail Blazers (25-35)
March 4, 2016, 7:00 PST
Watch: KGW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Evan Turner (out), Ed Davis (out), Festus Ezeli (out)
Nets injuries: Justin Hamilton (out)
SBN Affiliate: Nets Daily
Two nights after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in an exciting duel on national TV, the Portland Trail Blazers return to the Moda Center to face the Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn is, for lack of a better term, very bad; they’re 10-50 on the year and had lost 27 of 28 games and 16 straight before breaking through with a win against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday (they followed it up with a loss to the Jazz last night).
Brooklyn is led by center Brook Lopez, putting up 20 points and five rebounds per game for the season. Lopez, always a stellar offensive player, has extended his range out to beyond the arc and now takes more than five 3-point attempts a night, hitting at a 34 percent clip. He has the ability to punish defenders inside and out on the offensive end. Defensively, Lopez doesn’t move well laterally and can be beaten off the dribble, but does a good job on fellow centers when he is able to establish position.
The Nets start a backcourt duo of Jeremy Lin and Randy Foye. Lin—who’s missed significant time due to injury this season—is producing at his typical career level, putting up 13 points and over five assists a night. While he’s a solid 3-point shooter, Lin is also doing a good job this season in the mid-range, contributing to a 47 percent field goal percentage on the yea—by far a career high.
Foye, on his sixth NBA team, is having a rough go of it. Never a high-percentage shooter, Foye is shooting 37 percent from the floor—somehow his highest percentage since 2013-14. At this point, Foye is not much more than a 3-and-D wing who provides little 3-point shooting or defense.
Blazers vs. Nets Throwback Photo Gallery
- Travis Outlaw #25 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives against Antoine Wright #21 of the New Jersey Nets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
- Jarrett Jack #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers celebrates as Bostjan Nachbar #7 and Mikki Moore #33 of the New Jersey Nets look on during their game on November 18, 2006 Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
- Jason Kidd #5 of the New Jersey Nets loses the ball to Zach Randolph #50 of the Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
- Vince Carter #15 of the New Jersey Nets loses the ball against Ime Udoka #5 and rookie LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
- J.R. Rider of the Portland Trail Blazers
- Damon Stoudamire of the Portland Trail Blazers and Eric Murdock of the New Jersey Nets
- Arvydas Sabots of the Portland Trail Blazers and Kendall Gill of the New Jersey Nets
One player who does provide a semblance of defense is small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Though his defense hasn’t necessarily lived up to the hype that it generated coming out of college, Hollis-Jefferson is an active defender with quick hands. On the offensive side of the ball, he has poor jump shooting form and is inconsistent in his performance. Despite this, RHJ has shown improvement this season, averaging eight points and five rebounds a night.
At power forward, Brooklyn features Caris LeVert. LeVert—acquired from the Pacers in the Thaddeus Young trade and nicknamed “Baby Durant” for his thin frame—takes more than half of his shots from beyond the arc, where he shoots 30 percent en route to seven points per game.
With a team like the Nets coming to town, Portland needs to be sure to not play down to their level. After an inspiring victory over Oklahoma City, Portland needs to keep their foot on the accelerator and not let a bad Brooklyn squad think they have any business being in this game.
With the third-worst offense and fourth-worst defense in the league, the Nets are a team playing out the string, and their players will be looking for any reason to be motivated on the court. As much as Portland has struggled this season, as long as they stick to the game plan and show up to work, there is little reason to believe Brooklyn can hang with them.