Brooklyn tries to get a win before hitting the road

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

That's more like it. Fresh off a disastrous loss to the Pistons on Friday, Brooklyn bounced back and was able to beat the New Orleans Hornets at home on Sunday night. At 23-26, Brooklyn occupies the seventh seed in the East and are three games behind Atlantic Division leading Toronto. After this, they head to Chicago for the start of their seven game road trip (it's also the last game of the first half).

Making the journey into Barclays Center will be the eighth seeded Charlotte Bobcats. The Cats have already eclipsed their win total from last season and are in contention for their first playoff appearance since the 2009-2010 season. This is the second night of a back to back before Charlotte heads into the All Star Break. They beat Dallas by 25 points at home on Tuesday. This is also a rematch of the game Charlotte won on November 20 by a score of 95-91.

The season so far

What's happening with these two teams? Let's check:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Charlotte

Record

23-26 23-29

Pace

94.02 95.21

Offensive Efficiency

103 98

Defensive Efficiency

104.7 101

Offensive Rebounding percentage

22.8 20.7

Turnover rate

15.5 13.2

Assist rate

16.7 16.6

Rebound rate

48 48.6

Free throw rate

31.5

Effective Field Goal percentage

50.1

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.5

It's always nice when a player off the bench has a career night. Mason Plumlee had the best game of his young career on Sunday, scoring 22 points and snagging 13 rebounds in 28 minutes. Barring any injuries or foul trouble, Plumlee probably won't see that many minutes in Charlotte.

Deron Williams is still working his way back from injuries and a lack of confidence. He's had an injury plagued, mediocre season and would like to end his first half on a strong note before he heals up for the rest of the road trip and the second half of the season.

Leading the Charlotte attack will be Kemba Walker. He's been having a decent season for the Bobcats, averaging 17 points and five assists a night. If he does play, he won't be at 100 percent. During the game vs. Dallas, he had to leave due to a sore Achilles tendon and did not return. If Walker misses the game, Ramon Sessions will take his place in the lineup.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be looking to have a big game on defense. With him on the court, Charlotte is four points per 100 possessions better on defense, commit fewer fouls and are better on the glass with him on the court compared to without. MKG figures to draw Joe Johnson to start and hopes to goad him into a poor game. MKG hopes to use his length and quickness to throw off Johnson, who hit four three pointers in the first meeting.

Player to Watch: Al Jefferson

This is the first time the Nets will see Big Al. He missed the first Nets game due to a right ankle injury but has appeared in 43 games of the team's 52 games. And when he has played, he's produced at levels similar to his play in Utah. In 34 minutes a night, the big fella is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a night on 49 percent from the field. Outside of the restricted area, he's the most effective on the right block. This isn't surprising, as Rufus on Fire's Ben Swanson told our own Dennis Velasco when these teams met back in November:

I'm not worried about Jefferson's production at this point. He's been fighting a nagging ankle sprain for about a month, so trying to return to the court in recovery against Dwight Howard and Al Horford in two of his three games isn't exactly likely to herald big numbers.

The Nets are in a tricky spot here. Kevin Garnett doesn't play both ends of a back-to-back, so he probably won't play in Chicago. That poses a problem because the Bulls are one of the league's best rebounding teams while Brooklyn is one of the worst. So you're thinking why not sit KG on the front end so he could play against the Bulls on TNT right? Not so fast because this is a key game in the standings for both teams and no other Net frontcuort player is capable of slowing Jefferson down. Al has picked his game up tremendously over the past 15 games. During that time period, Big Al is averaging 27 points and close to 12 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field and attempting five free throws a night. Garnett is the team's best post defender & will look to throw the big man off his game. KG hasn't played 20 minutes in each of the past two games, and if this game is close throughout, he should cross that plateau. Jefferson will use his size and skill to get Garnett and friends in foul trouble.

From the Vault

With Charlotte becoming the Hornets again in 2014, head back to 2012 and let Bomani Jones explain why this name change is such a great move.


More reading: Rufus on Fire

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