The Nets are an interesting, definitely pitiful, but interesting collection of players. They've got their superstar, who has played like anything but. They've got a rookie who has far exceeded expectations. They've got a shooter, a rebounder and a euro big man. When you add all these things together, well, they don't equal much of anything at all. Tonight, the Sixers need to pick them apart, piece by piece.
There are a couple of known quantities for the Nets. Deron Williams is a very good point guard (his numbers this season don't change that, he's capable of going off any night). Kris Humprhies is a great rebounder/hustle guy at the four. DeShawn Stephenson has returned to form as one of the worst starters in the league now that he doesn't have Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki on the floor with him. Anthony Morrow is a very good shooter, and a very bad defender. Mehmet Okur is a soft big who prefers to shoot from the outside. It's pretty easy to figure out what those guys are going to look to do, and pretty easy to stop all of them outside of Williams. The unpredictable guy, and the one I'm most interested to see, is Marshon Brooks. Brooks has put up really nice numbers so far, and from what I've heard, he's a guy who can get his own shot. Right now, he's out-performing his college numbers, so I'd expect a correction at some point, but it will be fun to see him matched up against Iguodala, if he plays (he missed the Nets game on Monday, against the Bulls).
Stopping the Nets starts with Williams. He's one of the few points in the league who has a strength advantage on Jrue. Jrue has the quickness to cut off his drives, but he needs to watch out for pure power moves. He could pick up cheap fouls if he isn't moving his feet enough. The Nets don't really have a big capable of running a good pick-and-roll game with Williams, so that's less of a concern, but Jrue still needs to have his head on a swivel for screens on the perimeter. It's going to depend on how he's shooting early (he's only hitting 32% from three this season), but going under screens may be an option.
If Jrue has problems containing Williams, it could spell trouble, especially when Morrow is on the floor. Williams will drive and dish, and Morrow is more than capable of hitting open threes. Rotations need to be crisp. Even if the rotations are crisp, however, they're going to cause problems when Humphries is on the floor. He's a relentless rebounder on the offensive glass, and at least one guy needs to have a body on him at all times. This isn't exactly a strong suit for Thad. I'd probably tell the PFs to forget about going after boards, just put a body on Humphries all the way through the play, let someone else grab the board.
The Nets have an average offense, that's not really their problem (14th in the league in OFR). Their problem is on the defensive end where they rank dead last. They don't block a lot of shots, they don't force a lot of turnovers and they allow their opponents to shoot 49% from the floor and 42% from three. This is the type of defense that will break down spectacularly if you swing the ball and make the extra pass. Show some patience, capitalize on their turnovers, and by all means, attack the mismatches. If Brooks is out, they're going to probably start Stephenson and Morrow on the wings, Iguodala is going to have a big advantage on either of them.
Yes, this another game against a bad team. Just like all the others, this one needs to be a win.
The tip is at 7pm. Game thread will land around 5.