The last time the Washington Wizards played the Brooklyn Nets, something ... horrible happened. Despite the best efforts of John Wall and Washington's top ten defense, Deron Williams personally outscored the Wizards 23-14 in the first quarter on the way to hitting nine three pointers in the first half. Washington wasn't able to make up the difference and fell 95-78.
Tonight, they get to try again. Brooklyn has already clinched the number four seed in the East and Washington just lost the race for ninth, so it's anyone's game. Let's see if Wall can get some revenge and put on a show.
Where and when? Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. in Brooklyn.
Why should I care? Andray Blatche always tries to dominate when he goes up against his former team, usually with poor results. Tune in tonight to watch him fail, in addition to Wall's rematch with Williams.
Who's out? Probably everyone decent or fragile on the Nets. There's no official word yet, but why would they risk an injury to someone like Williams when they can't improve their playoff seeding? Washington's going to be missing Nene, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster.
Are they good? Yes, in the same way that the Hawks were for a few years. Brooklyn is a good team with a good record, but they're not elite and they're probably as good as they'll ever be. They're in the same position now that we thought they'd be in when Joe Johnson signed last summer: a 45-50 win team that will lose in the second round of the playoffs.
What are they good at? Offensive rebounding. Thanks to the presence of Reggie Evans, Brook Lopez, Blatche and Kris Humphries, what Brooklyn lacks in springiness around the basket they more than make up for with tenacity and strength around the rim. The Nets are second in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage, one of the primary reasons their offense is ranked eighth in the NBA in spite of its relatively weak three-point shooting.
What are they bad at? Have you ever heard the phrase "too many cooks in the kitchen?" Williams, Johnson and even Blatche, Gerald Wallace and Marshon Brooks have all been primary offensive options at some point in the last few years and Brooklyn's offense would likely function better if it swapped some of that playmaking for shooting. The Nets have a bunch of guys who are either primarily jump shooters or known for being smooth ball handlers. Nonetheless, they're only 20th in the NBA in turnover percentage and don't pick up a lot of assists. At their worst, watching the Nets is like watching a kid play NBA 2K13 and try to make a play with whoever touches the ball first in the halfcourt.
What's next for Andray Blatche? Dray's one year deal with the Nets comes to a close this summer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Brooklyn could use him, as could another couple of teams with cap space. Normally a key bench player on a decent team with a 20+ PER and Dray's size would be able to command quite a bit on the open market. Problem is, everyone who's anyone in the NBA is well aware of his conditioning issues and temperament, something that could limit the amount of money he's able to command on the open market. In a vacuum, he might be able to come away with a nine or ten million dollar a year offer. That's roughly double what he'll probably get on the open market.
What's going to happen tonight? My prediction is that #Baltche takes a lot of shots, Washington loafs a bit and Wall has a big night on the way to a Wizards win against the Nets' reserves.
Where else can I read about the Brooklyn Nets? Nets Daily is worth a gander.
What are your predictions for tonight's game? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll!