Blazers, Nets Pre-Thoughts


Let’s try this Nets preview again. On the right day. *double checks* Yep we play the Nets tonight.

To the New Jersey Nets. The mighty, mighty Nets who will welcome Portland into the IZOD Center tomorrow/today depending on when you read this. The Nets were one of the teams who spooked me before this road trip began. And now that we sit here at 1-1 they scare me even more. Both of these teams played last night and both got hammered. New Jersey got stomped by the Celtics and the Blazers got stomped by the Sixers. Who is going to show up tonight? I’m sure both Nate and Lawrence Frank will have their guys ready. Did I mention I hate East Coast road trips?

There is no arguing that New Jersey has been one of the big surprises in the Eastern Conference. Granted no one saw Philly and Toronto on the outside looking in of the playoff picture at this point but New Jersey has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Kudos to Lawrence Frank. It’s funny you’d think that the three headed monster of VC/Kidd/Jefferson would be better than this team, but that team literally had no basketball players besides those guys. And while the Nets are now a two-headed machine, they at least have something resembling depth to back it up. Kudos to Devin Harris who has bloomed into…*gasp*….an elite player. Yes I said it and I can’t take it back but the stats don’t lie. And if you disagree I’ll just have Coup do the arguing. He’s an All-Star and one of the top players in the NBA right now. He scares me more than Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. Along his side is Vince Carter who is just in cruise control Vince Carter mode. That doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous, not one bit but he just doesn’t put that same fear in my heart. 2001 I cry if he has the ball in the clutch. 2009 I encourage it. that’s just the way it is.

And what’s after that? Jay-Z? Nah. Andre the Giant….I mean….Brook Lopez has played pretty dang well and has carried the team a few games but our frontcourt depth makes me feel ok about containing him. After that? A whole lot of role players. Seriously. A lot of them. I’m talking about a serious amount of role players here. If there was a role-player All-Star game on the Wednesday night before All-Star Weekend, the Nets would send half of the representatives. Scrappy role players, but role players. How all these guys are on the same team is kind of funny if you think about it. Ok maybe it’s funny to me but you it just seems like guys that a good team might add to fill a role…except they are all on the same team. Bobby Simmons, Trenton Hassell, Jarvis Hayes, Keyon Dooling, Najera, Josh Boone and co. Frank’s made it work so more power to him but damn. You try playing NBA 2K9 with the Nets. I dare you.

(I’m not talking about Yi because A) he’s injured and B) he’s silently on the verge of completely ruining the All-Star game. If he gets voted in, Obama has to stop it. He has to.)

A big knock on the Nets? They have been pretty bad on their home court. Like 9-12 bad. Like same home record as the Memphis Grizzlies bad. Their struggles at the IZOD Center are part of the reason they are clinging to a playoff spot. New Jersey lost 12 of their first 17 at home. Yucky. Now if you’re smart, which I assume you are you’re saying to yourself ‘SJ you dumb-dumb, that means they’ve won their last 4 home games in a row!’ And you would be right. Except for the dumb-dumb part, jerk. Despite the empty stands, complete lack of atmosophere and overall hideous arena, New Jersey has managed to win 4 straight home games. We should be scared? One second their my friend. Who did they beat? Atlanta thanks to a VC heave, Sacramento, Memphis and an OT thriller over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not exactly a murderer’s row.

Keys to success:

  • Shut Ryan Anderson down. I have seen this man play up close. He can stroke it. The Nets are 4-2 when he scores in double figures. This ties in with my second key but for some reason Ryan Anderson scares me. As a matter of fact after watching Igoudala and Thaddeus Young stroke three’s, anyone who can shoot the ball well scares the daylights out of me. Don’t let him get going. Please. I beg you Nate. Please. I won’t be able to take it. Thank you.
  • No third scoring option. The above makes more sense now right? I’m working under the assumption that Devin Harris and Vince Carter are more than likely going to do their thang thizzle. I’m not going to say contain those two because I doubt they are both going to go off for 50. KNOCK ON WOOD. And while they both scare me, realistically two players can only do so much. That’s where shutting the rest of the guys down comes into play. They only have three people who average double figures, let’s keep it that way. Brook has to get beasted. Keyon Dooling, Bobby Simmons or Jarvis Hayes can’t hit threes. If New Jersey gets a third guy going they become that much more dangerous.
  • Energy and effort. New Jersey is a place where you can pick up a road win. 12 teams have proven this and the Thunder almost came out with a win for pete’s sake. But the Blazers are going to have to take it and take it early. I’d personnally like a much better start than we had in the Windy City but that’s neither here, nor there.
  • Execute. New Jersey can get sloppy and they can be an inconsistent defensive team. Make them pay for both of these deficiencies.
  • Hit shots. New Jersey gives up the three, opposing teams are hitting 8 a game on them. We’re a good shooting team, we’ve just go to knock open looks down.

This is another game where if the Blazers take care of business, good things should happen. Very nervous though as coming into this trip this game scared me. At 1-1 I’m even more scared. A loss….don’t even want to think about it but that disappointing 2-2 is coming closer and closer to reality. At least Utah lost to the Thunder last night.