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Monday, January 28, 2013
W2W4: Nets vs. Magic

By Mike Mazzeo

The Brooklyn Nets will attempt to snap a two-game skid and complete a season sweep of the Orlando Magic on Monday at Barclays Center. Tipoff will be at 7:30 p.m.; here's what we'll be watching for:

ONE GAME AT A TIME: The Nets (26-18) are riding a seven-game winning streak at home. They're 16-0 against sub-.500 teams and 3-0 versus Orlando in 2012-13. But, as interim coach P.J. Carlesimo pointed out, the Nets can't afford to overlook the Magic (14-29) with home games against the Heat, Bulls and Lakers looming.

Carlesimo called Monday night's game "dangerous."

"It's just as important as those other games," guard Joe Johnson said. "It could be a springboard into something special."

"This is a tough stretch before the break," Deron Williams said. "We've got some good teams coming into our building, and we want to make sure we protect home court."

PROTECT THE PAINT: The Nets have given up a whopping 122 points in the paint in their last two games. The Magic aren't as talented in that department as the Grizzlies or Rockets, but their frontcourt tandem of Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis can cause some problems on the interior. It's time for the Nets to step up their defense in the paint. In its three victories over Orlando this season, Brooklyn has given up an average of 76 points per game.

ALL-STAR-WORTHY: Rajon Rondo's ACL injury has opened up a spot on the Eastern Conference roster. Williams, Johnson and Brook Lopez are possible candidates to replace Rondo. All three have been playing extremely well since Carlesimo took over. Williams is coming off a 27-point, 11-assist performance in Houston. Lopez had 21 points, seven rebounds and a season-high tying five blocks in that game, while Johnson will look to bounce back after scoring just 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting.