Out of the Heat, Into the Thunder for Brooklyn Nets

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

After enduring the Heat, the Nets await the Thunder in Brooklyn.

In the NBA.com power rankings, the Nets are No. 5. They would have been higher if they had beaten No. 1, the Heat. Now, they have a chance to move up higher if they can beat No. 4, the Thunder. The Thunder will make their first visit to Barclays Center Tuesday in yet another nationally televised game, this one on NBA TV.

The Thunder is a bit different from last year, after trading James Harden to the Rockets, but they still have two of last season's Big Three, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, both all-stars, both teammates of Deron Williams on the Team USA gold medal winners. and averaging a combined 47 points a game. Formidable. They've won five straight, are tied for second in the West and have a road record of 5-2. They average 105 points a game, which leads the league, and are second in offensive efficiency. On defense, they're tenth in points allowed and seventh in defensive efficiency.

And oh yeah, Westbrook is on a roll and not just on offense. As Schuhmann points out, "opposing point guards Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lin, Mo Williams and Greivis Vasquez combined for just 24 points on 9-for-31 shooting against OKC last week." With D-Will banged up and admitting to a crisis of confidence in his shooting, this will be the key match-up, although watching Gerald Wallace and Durant should be fun.

For the Nets, Brook Lopez is almost certainly out and may miss Friday's game vs. the Warriors as well. Toko Shengelia is likely to join him in a suit jacket Tuesday. Aside from Williams, the Nets will need a lot from Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche. It is likely going to be a big test of the Nets' defense and pace.

The game also marks the official end of MarShon Brooks' rookie "year." The Nets have now played 16 games. Add that to last season's 66 and you get to 82, a full season. Now, will he play?

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