The Brooklyn Nets kick off a back-to-back in Los Angeles with a Monday night contest against the Clippers.Unfortunately for us East Coast guys, two games in Hollywood means 10:30 PM EST tip-offs and mid-day naps. It also means that the Nets play the first half against the NBA’s top team, and the Clippers’ 9-1 record gives them a nice perch at the top of the standings.
The likelihood of Brooklyn pulling out a victory with a depleted roster against the league’s top team is slim, but how they compete will provide great insight to how good they are.
If the contest is wire-to-wire, Brooklyn will gain more respect league-wide. If they get blown out, no one would’ve expected anything less.
The Nets have gotten off to an interesting start and are already 20 percent of the way to their projected win total of 20. They haven’t beaten a team as good as the Clippers, and none of their wins have come against a team with a winning record.
Their five losses, however, haven’t all been blowouts and they’ve shown they can hang with good teams — Chicago smashed them when they were red-hot, but the Bulls have cooled off significantly since.
Los Angeles is a different monster, though. They play outstanding basketball on both ends, and seven of their wins have come by more than ten points — the teams they play aren’t bad, either.
Portland (twice), Oklahoma City, Utah and San Antonio are four of the West’s top teams and have fallen to the Clippers.
For Brooklyn to make the game interesting, Justin Hamilton will need to be more of a factor than before. He brings an interesting dynamic to this game because he’s going to pull DeAndre Jordan away from the basket, thus eliminating the Clips’ best interior defender. Since Blake Griffin isn’t the shot blocker that Jordan is, Brooklyn can afford to have Trevor Booker hang out around the basket and battle on the boards.
Why Hamilton, you ask? Because Brook Lopez isn’t playing tonight, according to Brian Lewis of the NY Post.
Typically, it would start with the point guard, but the Nets have Yogi Ferrell and Sean Kilpatrick while LAC has Chris Paul.
I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.
It’s going to be tough for Kilpatrick or Ferrell to get anything going against the NBA’s best defensive point guard.
Other guys will have their chances as well, but Joe Harris and Bojan Bogdanovic will be counted on to make shots.
For Brooklyn to remain in the game, they need to attack LAC’s only weakness: three-point defense. It’s not even much of a weakness, but opponents hit 34.4 percent of their triples against L.A.
Brooklyn makes a ton of threes (11.3 per game) at a so-so clip, but that’s because they attempt so many.
It’s easy to say, but they need to be efficient with their volume. Corner threes off of one pass won’t cut it; the offense needs to be in constant motion and four or five passes need to get made before the shot is taken.
More movement means the defense has a higher chance of lapsing which could lead to an open shot.
This game must turn into a shootout. A defensive battle wholly favors the Clippers. Therefore, Brooklyn needs to do whatever possible to get as many possessions as they can, and they need to work the Clips every time down the floor.