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Saturday, December 28, 2013
W2W4: Nets at Pacers

By Mike Mazzeo

And so it begins. The Brooklyn Nets begin an extremely difficult three-game roadtrip Saturday night in Indiana, when they face the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers at Bankers Life FieldHouse. Here's what we'll be watching for:

THE GAUNTLET: Doesn't get any worse than this, does it? Dates with Indiana (23-5), San Antonio (23-7) and Oklahoma City (24-5). The Nets, who have lost more games (19) than those three teams combined (17), snapped their four-game losing streak Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks (6-23). For a team in turmoil, at least it's something. It's probably a bad time to point out that the Pacers are 13-1 at home, have the NBA's best defense and are 2-0 against the Nets this season. Oh well.

SAME LINEUP? Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett started Friday night. It was Brooklyn's 13th different starting lineup this season. Will Nets coach Jason Kidd stick with it? We'll find out. In the 41 minutes they've played together, Williams and Livingston have had success (116 points per 100 possessions for, 107.1 allowed).

DYNAMIC DUO: When these two teams faced each other Monday, Paul George and Lance Stephenson each scored 26 points. George (23.9 ppg) has blossomed into one of the best players in the NBA. Stephenson, one of the best players in New York City high school basketball history, has three triple-doubles this season.

NOTES: Andray Blatche (personal reasons) will not be on the trip with the team. Andrei Kirilenko (back) said he expected to travel, but is not expected to play. CSNChicago.com reports the Nets are one of several teams interested in Luol Deng. Not sure they have the assets to land him in a trade, but we'll see.