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Monday, February 11, 2013
W2W4: Nets at Pacers

By Mike Mazzeo

The Brooklyn Nets are struggling and the schedule isn't doing them any favors. A day after getting throttled at home by 25 points versus the San Antonio Spurs, who were without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the Nets are in Indiana to take on the Central Division-leading Pacers.

Nets point guard Deron Williams will miss the game because of ankle problems. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m.; here's what we'll be watching for:

(ALL-STAR) BREAKING OUT? The Nets (29-22) get the Pacers and Denver Nuggets (Wednesday) before the All-Star break. Not exactly the perfect set of games for a struggling team that has lost six of its last nine.

Indiana won all three games of a back-to-back-to-back before losing to Toronto in overtime on Friday, which snapped the Pacers' 15-game home winning streak. The Pacers have had three days off since. Uh-oh. This one has disaster written all over it. Then again, that's why they play the games.

WHERE ARE YOU, STARS? Williams and Joe Johnson combined for 34 points on Sunday night, but didn't play as well as their stat lines indicated -- just 11 of those points came after halftime.

The Pacers (31-20, 20-4 home) have the NBA's second-best defense, allowing just 90.2 points per game. Brooklyn beat Indiana on Jan. 13 at Barclays Center, but the Pacers have beaten the Nets five straight times in Indianapolis. In their past nine games, the Nets are shooting just 43 percent and averaging 88.2 points per game.

D IT UP: Unlike the Spurs, the Pacers are known to have scoring lapses. Still, David West should be able to exploit the Nets out of the high post. Paul George (17.8 PPG) has emerged as an All-Star in Danny Granger's absence.

On Sunday night, the Spurs made 58.9 percent of their shots and went 12-for-19 from 3-point range. The Nets are going to have tighten it up on defense. As D-Will and Gerald Wallace said, they need to trust each other more.