Brooklyn takes a trip to Houston

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody knows almost doesn't count. The Nets fell behind by 27 points to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday and rallied all the way back to tie it up in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they weren't able to execute late in the game and lost by five. This is the first of a back to back that will take them to Memphis after this game concludes.

The opponent this post Thanksgiving evening will be the Houston Rockets. They find themselves in the fifth position of a jam packed Western Conference. They're certainly gonna be prepared for this matchup, but they might be looking ahead to the second half of their back to back. Once this game is over, the Rockets head over to San Antonio to play the Spurs who will be coming back to town after playing in Orlando on Friday.

The season so far

What have these squads been up to? Let's see:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Houston

Record

4-11 11-5

Pace

95.19 99.13

Offensive Efficiency

99.3 108.9

Defensive Efficiency

106.9 101

Offensive Rebounding percentage

24.5 28.2

Turnover rate

15.8 18.7

Assist rate

15.6 15.9

Rebound rate

48.8 53.3

Free throw rate

32.4 44.4

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.4 55.2

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

49.8 46.6

We can add Andray Blatche to the Brooklyn injury pile. He sprained his left ankle on Wednesday, but says he should be ready to go for this game. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but there's no update on the status of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko or Jason Terry as of this writing. Lopez hopes to play Friday, tweets Stefan Bondy.

Mirza Teletovic should see an increase in his minutes. He had an excellent game on Wednesday and should provide floor spacing for the Nets. Joe Johnson should continue to be the focal point of the Nets offense, although he has struggled from the field the past two games. In happier news, Kevin Garnett has been playing better the last two games, so maybe (just maybe) he's starting to turn it around.

Houston is dealing with some injuries as well. James Harden has been dealing with a left foot injury and hasn't played since last week. Jeremy Lin bruised his right knee against the Hawks on Wednesday & there hasn't been an update to his status as of this writing. Even with the Harden injury and Omer Asik trade rumors, the Rockets have won three straight games and six out of the last seven (patience works!). We all know about Harden, Howard, and Lin but Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones & Patrick Beverly have done a very good job for H-Town. The Nets allow opponents to shoot 38 percent from deep and Houston leads the league in attempts per game from deep. We should also note that young, athletic, up-tempo teams have given the Nets trouble & that trend is almost guaranteed to continue in this contest.

Player to Watch: Dwight Howard

At the beginning of the year, I was very excited to see this game for two reasons. The first was that it would be a good matchup between two teams that figure to make a deep run in the playoffs (this remains true for Houston). The second was because I wanted to see how Brook Lopez would do against Dwight Howard (probably no Lopez in this game. Howard has good individual numbers (17 points and 13 rebounds a night on a True Shooting percentage of 57.8), but he hasn't had as big of an impact as you would think. Their defense has been better as of late & the issues they had/have sound fixable. There might be a long term problem with the big guy's offense though. Here's Zach Lowe to explain:

Howard was once a very powerful post-up player, and it wasn't all that long ago. He never had the most graceful footwork or McHale-esque bag of tricks, but he had seven or eight dependable moves and countermoves that worked well enough. People might scoff at the idea that Howard possesses such variety, but it's on the film if the critics care to look.

It just doesn't work anymore, and that's before you even consider his abysmal foul shooting. Watching film of the current Howard and the version from 2011 and before his back injury late in the 2012 season, is like watching film of two different human beings playing basketball. The repertoire of moves is the same; the results are not.

Dwight should have a feast inside against the Nets. If Blatche doesn't play, look for Reggie Evans to start. When he's on his game, he provides physical defense in the low post. However, he commits close to six fouls per 36 minutes and Howard lives at the free throw line (even if you discount Hack-a-Dwight). The Nets are very thin in the front court right now & have been one of the weaker teams on the defensive glass this month. It's not looking good for Brooklyn.

From the Vault


Head on back to the Winter of 1992 and take a look at Hakeem Olajuwon's excellent game against the Jordan Bulls. We might have gotten that Bulls-Rockets Finals matchup in 1997, but you know, things happen.

More reading: The Dream Shake

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