Sunday, December 9, 2012
W2W4: Nets vs. Bucks
By Mike Mazzeo
The Brooklyn Nets will have a chance to end a season-high three-game losing streak. Here's what we'll be watching for when the Milwaukee Bucks visit Barclays Center on Sunday night:
DDDD-FENCE: The Nets (11-7) have been lacking energy on the defensive end of the floor. In their last three games, they've given up an average of 109.3 points on 53.8 percent shooting. Completely unacceptable. Deron Williams told reporters Saturday that the team has no one to blame but itself. Led by Monta Ellis (18.4 ppg) and Brandon Jennings (16.7 ppg), the Bucks come in averaging 96.8 points per game. Milwaukee (9-9, 3-7 in its last 10) is going to play an up-tempo type of game, given its backcourt. But Brooklyn needs to play at its slower pace for the majority of the 48 minutes in order to snap its skid.
BROOK-LOST: Andray Blatche has been exceptional in place of Brook Lopez, averaging 18.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in his last four games. Still, the Nets clearly miss Lopez on defense, as evidenced by the numbers above. They also miss the Blatche-Reggie Evans frontcourt combo coming off the bench. Blatche is averaging only 0.3 blocks per game since Lopez went down with a mild right foot sprain.
FINALLY BACK, COURT? Joe Johnson erupted for a season-high 32 points on Friday, three nights after Williams erupted for a season-high 33. It'd be key for the Nets if both Johnson and Williams became more consistent -- especially if they did so in the same games. The Nets are tough to beat when this duo is delivering efficiently and effectively.
WHAT COULD'VE BEEN: The Nets had pursued Ersan Ilyasova during the offseason to fill their void at power forward. But Ilyasova ended up signing a multiyear deal to stay with the Bucks, and hasn't been his normal productive self since. He's shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and averaging 8.4 points.