The Nets and Clippers face off on TNT

Jared Wickerham

Maybe things are starting to look up. With Deron Williams & Paul Pierce back on the court, the Nets were able to beat the Boston Celtics at home on Tuesday night. They're still deep in the hole, but they have won back to back games. The last time the Nets were on national TV, this happened. For Brooklyn's (as well as the viewing audience's) sake, hopefully that won't happen again.

The opponent for this national TV broadcast will be the Los Angeles Clippers. This is the sixth game of their seven game road trip and night two of a back-to-back. This is also a rematch of the Saturday night tilt from November 17 that the Clips won. In that contest, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were out due to injuries. For Thursday's game, LA will be playing shorthanded. J.J. Redick is still out of action due to a right wrist injury and Matt Barnes is recovering from eye surgery. DeAndre Jordan is dealing with a strained foot, but he played 32 minutes on Wednesday so he in all likelihood should be good to go for this game. Stephen Jackson just signed and he'll be in the rotation for this contest (and while you're at it, watch his interview with Dan LeBatard & Bomani Jones. It's definitely worth it.).

The season so far

How have these teams been doing? Let's check the numbers:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Los Angeles

Record

7-14 15-8

Pace

93.53 98.08

Offensive Efficiency

100.5 105.4

Defensive Efficiency

107.9 100.5

Offensive Rebounding percentage

25.5 24.6

Turnover rate

15.4 14.7

Assist rate

15.4 18.1

Rebound rate

49.3 49.7

Free throw rate

33.5 34.2

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.5 51.2

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

51.5 48.2

Paul Pierce returned Tuesday night but he came off the bench. He isn't opposed to this change, and it might be beneficial for the Nets in the long run if he continues to lead the second unit. Reed Wallach has more:

... if Pierce is willing to play a reserve role, it might be better off for the team to have a second unit leader, as Jason Kidd noted after the game. Having a player like Pierce anchor a versatile Nets second unit could provide stability as well as a pure scorer, something that particular unit has been lacking on a nightly basis. Especially once Pierce's hand heels and his shot returns, he can be a force for the second unit.

Although the Nets defense is still near the bottom of the league, they've been better the past couple of games. They were able to hold Milwaukee and Boston to under 45 percent shooting from the field. They'll be facing a much more dangerous team, but it's an encouraging sign that Brooklyn's defense has looked good over their last two contests. Jordan isn't at 100 percent, so look for Brook Lopez to continue his dominant play. Despite the injury, he's having a career year offensively. He's got career highs in field goal percentage, free throw attempts a game, true shooting percentage and is shooting 65 percent inside the restricted area.

Even without Redick's sharpshooting, the Clippers pose a major threat to the Nets. All season long quick, athletic teams have given the Nets trouble & LA is no exception. The Clippers are ninth in pace & thanks to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and friends, are seventh in offensive efficiency. One area they've struggled in is three point shooting. As of this writing, they're the sixth worst team shooting from deep, hitting on only 32.9 percent of their attempts (sixth in attempted three pointers). I think a lot of that is due to the absence of Redick, and once he returns and is back in a groove, LA's shooting will improve. Where Los Angeles is most dangerous is on the inside. They're second in efficiency inside the restricted area and second in team free throw rate. For a Doc Rivers coached team, they aren't as great on defense as you'd think, but they're on the way up. They're currently ninth in defensive efficiency (granted against weak competition), but with more time together, they might be one of the league's best come playoff time.

Player to watch: Chris Paul

For the first time in his career, Paul is playing in a fast paced offense. For most of his career, he's led slower paced offenses. That change in pace hasn't impacted his play so faras he's continued to provide lots of value at the point guard position. His shooting frequency & efficiency hasn't changed much from his glory days & he's still one of the best players in late game situations. He's drawn comparisons to John Stockton in multiple forums on multiple occasions, but that's another (fun) topic for another day.

The Paul-Deron Williams matchups are always fun to watch and discuss. Since they entered the league in 2005, they have been considered the best point guards in the league by their peers and writers/pundits in the basketball community. Williams is coming off of an excellent game that didn't have him on a minute restriction. Paul is coming off a solid 36 minute game against Boston last night. Although Williams isn't all that interested in point guard battles, I would think he'll have a little extra motivation going up against a player as good as Paul.

From the Vault

Head on back to 2012 and relive the Clippers' comeback against Memphis in Game 1 of the Conference Quarterfinals.


More reading: Clips Nation

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