Brooklyn heads to Hollywood to face the Clippers

Mike Ehrmann

The Brooklyn Nets are coming off a tough overtime game against a team that wasn't predicted to make the playoffs and now find themselves in the second half of a back-to-back as they face a Championship contender in a national TV (NBATV) game. If this scenario sounds familiar, this was last weekend for the Nets. However, unlike last week, the Nets won their overtime game this time as they beat the Phoenix Suns on a gamewinning layup from Joe Johnson. And unlike last week, they'll be on the road for this game, and they get to face the well rested Los Angeles Clippers.

It's very likely Deron Williams won't be in the lineup for Brooklyn. Early in the first quarter, Williams sprained his left ankle. X-rays came up negative, and as of this writing, no other news about his health has been released. Brook Lopez might be a bit sore too, as he landed on Kevin Garnett's foot during the game. They both finished the game & should be ready to roll.

Waiting for them in Los Angeles are the Clippers. Considered by many to be a Championship contender, they find themselves off to a 6-3 start and have beaten quality teams along the way. They've beaten the Rockets twice, the Thunder (although, as Clips Nation writer Steve Perrin notes, is a bit tainted because Serge Ibaka got tossed from the game), Golden State, and played the Heat very tough on the road in a losing effort.

It will also be a reunion for Doc Rivers and the three Celtics traded to Brooklyn last summer. Expect to hear Rivers talk about how they have a lot left.

The season so far

What's the story for these two teams? Let's check the stats:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Los Angeles

Record

3-5 6-3

Pace

96.05 100.41

Offensive Efficiency

97.6 109.4

Defensive Efficiency

102.3 105.7

Offensive Rebounding percentage

23.7 28.6

Turnover rate

16 15.9

Assist rate

15.7 19.2

Rebound rate

49.9 51.3

Free throw rate

32.5 34.7

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.2 53.2

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

48.6 52.4

When your team has been as cold as the Nets have recently, you'll take any win you can get. Even with the win, Jason Kidd i& Lawrence Frank are gonna have to continue working with this group & hopefully their teaching will rub off on the players. With Williams out of the game, ex Clipper Shaun Livingston had a heck of a game. Look for him to see a healthy amount of minutes this evening. And while he isn't as good as Paul, he's got enough length to pester him, is quick enough to stay with him, and will work to keep the Brooklyn players active on offense. One thing I am worried about for Brooklyn is them not being fully into this game at the beginning. They're coming off a hard fought emotional win the night before and they're facing a team that's been at home for the past week. It's certainly understandable if they start off a little slow, but due to the Clippers style, Brooklyn might be out of the game early if they aren't up to the task. I'm very interested in seeing how Kidd rallies his players for this difficult matchup.

Quick, athletic teams have been giving the Nets trouble so far this year, and the Clippers are the perfect embodiment of the foe that has troubled Brooklyn so far. Under new coach. the Clippers have dramatically increased their pace, averaging seven more possessions per game than last season. New acquisition J.J. Redick has done a good job shooting the ball for LA, averaging 16 points a night with 60.8 True Shooting. Alongside Redick's greeat play has been Jamal Crawford. The 13 (!!!) year vet is having an awesome start to the year, averaging 17 points a night off the bench on 46.2 percent shooting from downtown. And we can't forget about Blake Griffin and Chris Paul being fully let loose on the league.

As you would expect with a team that plays as quickly as Los Angeles, they are very, very successful attacking the basket. The Clips are shooting 69.2 percent inside the restricted area, which puts them in the league lead slightly ahead of Miami.Their success inside has created a ton of free throw opportunities as well. Although they're only 21st in free throw percentage (thanks in large part to DeAndre Jordan's struggles), they get to the line a good amount. The defense hasn't been there yet, but I think that will change for the better as the season progresses. It probably won't be where Rivers wants it when these teams meet again in December, but by playoff time, I think LA will give teams plenty of trouble.

Matchup to watch: Brook Lopez-DeAndre Jordan

The big guy had a quiet first half, but exploded for 25 in the second half. For all of Brooklyn's issues this year, Brook finds himself very low on the list. He's continued to build upon the success he had last year, averaging 20 points on 57 percent shooting. As i relates to this matchup, his greatest strengths happen to be in areas that the Clippers have struggled at so far under Rivers. Lopez has done a very good job scoring on the inside (66 percent in the restricted area) this year and has lived at the free throw line (6 attempts a night at an 83 percent clip). LA's interior defense has been pretty poor through the first nine games, allowing their enemies to shoot 67.2 percent in the restricted area, "good" for second worst in the Association. Dating back to Vinny Del Negro's tenure as Clipper coach, the team had a propensity to commit fouls a a consistent rate. So far under Rivers that trend has continued as LA owns the second highest opponent free throw rate in the league. If Lopez is able Jordan into foul trouble early on and get the weak Clippers bench (for bigs) in the game, he has the potential to go for 30+ points tonight.

The knock on Jordan is that he's all dunks & nothing else. But that narrative isn't necessarily true. He is one of the best rebounders & shot blockers in the league and that holds a lot of value. And although the team's points per 100 possessions is the same with Jordan on the court vs. off, teams shoot six percentage points better when DJ is in the game (although I should add the Clippers force more turnovers when he's in too). I mentioned getting into the weak bench bigs as a goal for Lopez, and I think that idea holds true for Jordan as well. Andray Blatche has been woeful, & if Jordan can get Lopez out of the game early, he'll be able to dominate the inside against Blatche.

From the Vault


Let's take a look back at ex-Net & current Laker Jordan Farmar's game winner vs. the Clippers from 2012. I still wanna know what the hell Chris Paul was thinking on this possession.

More reading: Clips Nation

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