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Friday, February 14, 2014
Three improvements the Nets need to make

By Mike Mazzeo

The Brooklyn Nets have been playing better basketball of late, and head into the All-Star break with a 14-6 record since Jan. 1.

But here’s three areas they need to improve in the second half:

Rebounding: The Nets rank next to last in rebounds per game (39.1); only the two-time defending Miami Heat (36.7) are worse in that department. Going smaller and longer has worked wonders for Brooklyn, but with that comes a size disadvantage. The Nets, outrebounded in 10 of their last 12 games, have struggled against teams like the Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, who feature imposing frontlines.

Star Consistency: Deron Williams (13.3 points, 6.6 assists, 45.1 percent shooting overall) and Joe Johnson (15.0 points, 43.8 percent shooting) have both had up-and-down seasons. Williams and Johnson make nearly $40 million combined but haven’t been consistent. Williams has been slowed by ankle injuries -- and confidence problems -- while Johnson has been dealing with right knee tendinitis. With Brook Lopez out for the season, the Nets will need both guards to be healthy and productive for the stretch run.

Game 2 of Back-to-Backs: The Nets are 2-10 in the second game of back-to-backs, including 0-6 in the second game of home/away back-to-backs. The veteran team, after flying into opposing cities late at night/early in the morning, usually fails to bring the proper energy and effort. Brooklyn still has eight more back-to-back sets remaining. The good thing, Johnson pointed out, is there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs.