Open thread: Regular season game 4


The essentials:
Wizards (0-3) at Nets (3-1)
7:30 p.m.
IZOD Center
Comcast Sports Net

Last year:
November 12: Nets 105, Wizards 93 (OT).
February 27: Nets 113, Wizards 101.
April 7: Nets 120, Wizards 114 (OT).
April 10: Nets 96, Wizards 92.

Notable Nets numbers this season (pound the salt):
19th in expected winning percentage (.377).
23rd in pace factor (89.6 possessions per game).
25th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (98.8).
13th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (102.4).

Notable Nets numbers last season
T14 in expected winning percentage (.506).
16th in pace factor (89.9 possessions per game).
15th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (108.0).
14th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (107.8).

Key links
Nets Daily.
Hooplah...Nation
Hooplah...Nation blog preview.
Nets Daily blog preview.
Post: Arenas' knee drained
Washington Post Live discusses Gilbert's online popularity
Competition discussion: New Jersey

Starting lineups:
Nets
PG: Jason Kidd.
SG: Vince Carter.
SF: Richard Jefferson.
PF: Nenad Kristic.
C: Jason Collins.

Wizards
PG: Gilbert Arenas.
SG: DeShawn Stevenson.
SF: Caron Butler.
PF: Antawn Jamison.
C: Brendan Haywood.

Tonight's lines:
Wizards at Nets: Nets by 6.
Over/Under on Big 3 scoring: 60.7 points.

Methinks we've had far too much time between games, because while this team has looked very bad in its three losses, there are still 79 games remaining to turn things around.  Granted, their offense hasn't looked good since the Arenas injury last year, and their defense, while improved, still allows too many open shots, but I don't see why that's reason to panic or trade Arenas just yet.  Remember, Dallas was 0-4 last year, and Chicago is 0-4 this season.  It's a long season, folks.

With all that being said, I don't really like this matchup against the Nets.  New Jersey beat the Wizards all four times last year, thought only two of those were with Arenas.  Their point differential stinks, but it's only because of that 37-point blowout loss to Toronto.  Richard Jefferson is healthy and playing well, Jason Kidd is still Jason Kidd, and Antoine Wright has come out of nowhere to provide a spark off the bench.

What scares me most about New Jersey is that they're a jump-shooting team.  They were seventh in the league in effective field goal percentage last year, and only finished in the middle of the pack offensively because they were one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the league.  Jefferson and Carter killed us with threes, and Kidd was even launching and hitting a bunch of them as well.  Their frontline poses a difficult matchup too, because they can step out and hit jumpers as well.  

Meanwhile, I'm worried about the Wizards offense.  Kidd and Jefferson are two of the better perimeter defenders around, and while Jamison poses matchup problems, New Jersey can always go small and play Nachbar on him.  Driving to the basket will be key, because the Nets don't have a shotblocker.  Jason Collins is solid, but he's not that guy.  

I'm not sure how much I'm going to see, because I've got a lot of newspaper things to do, but I'd recommend watching Arenas closely.  From what I've heard, draining of fluid in the knee could solve the problem, but it could also only be a temporary solution, like it was for Michael Jordan throughout his Wizards' career.  With another game against Denver tomorrow, Eddie Jordan needs to get Arenas' minutes down to 30-35, rather than 40+.  Play Antonio Daniels and Roger Mason together, especially when Carter is out of the game, or try giving Nick Young some minutes when needed.  Oh, and play Andray Blatche.  Please.  Jamison and Darius Songaila should never be on the floor at the same time.

This is an open game thread, so question Vince Carter's toughness here.

GO WIZARDS!

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