The Nets try to bounce back against New Orleans

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

That sucked. After winning the first two games of the week (albeit in unpretty fashion), the Nets got run over by the Pistons on Friday night. Brooklyn is standing at 22-26 and are in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

Making the Sunday night appearance in Barclays will be the New Orleans Pelicans. This roster has some talent but they've been battered by injuries this season. Key players such as Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holliday, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis have all missed time this season. NOLA is twelfth in the Western Conference and are a long shot to make it back into the playoff chase this season. They are coming off a nice win against Minnesota on Friday night.

The season so far

What's the story with these clubs? Let's get into it

2013-2014

Brooklyn

New Orleans

Record

22-26 22-27

Pace

94.01 94.68

Offensive Efficiency

103.1 104.8

Defensive Efficiency

105.1 105.9

Offensive Rebounding percentage

22.9 28.1

Turnover rate

15.3 14.5

Assist rate

16.7 16.6

Rebound rate

47.9 50.2

Free throw rate

31.3 27

Effective Field Goal percentage

50 49.1

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.7 50.8

With Kevin Garnett off, it's no surprise that the Nets got outrebounded by 17 against Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings (!!!) and the rest of the Pistons. Their lack of size since Brook Lopez went down has hurt them against the bigger teams and figures to do so for the remainder of this season.

If there's any positive to take away from Friday's loss, it's the play of Jason Terry. Terry played 24 minutes and connected on a season high six three pointers. He hasn't gotten much playing time as of late, but it would be great for the Nets bench if Terry gave them productive minutes.

The focus will once again be on Deron Williams. He's coming off of a mediocre game against the Pistons & watched Brandon Jennings get a triple double. Pelicans point guard Brian Roberts isn't a great defender, so look for Williams to be extra aggressive at the start of the game.

We'll get to Anthony Davis in a bit, but I wanna focus on Eric Gordon here. Gordon is a few minutes away this season from reaching his minutes total for the last two seasons combined. The injury narrative is well known, but he is trying to break that. In his 32 minutes a night, Gordon is averaging a respectable 16 points on a True Shooting percentage of 53.3. He's most successful from three point range, hitting on 39 percent of his attempts from deep this season. He's been playing well lately, averaging 19 points over his last three games on 47 percent shooting from the field.

Offseason acquisition Tyreke hasn't had the impact that Pelicans management expected so far. He's been having the worst shooting season of his career, converting on only 40.1 percent of his field goal attempts. He's had a lot of trouble finishing at the rim, making only 49 percent of his shots inside the restricted area. To be fair to Evans, he's been hounded by an ankle injury that's been bothering him all season and recently missed a game due to a rib injury. If/when Holliday returns from his stress fracture, Evans won't have to handle the ball as much for the Pelicans.

Where the Nets have struggled the most this season has been in defending the three point line. On the season, the team allows their foes to shoot 38.2 percent from behind the arc, tied with Milwaukee for worst in the league. This bodes well for our old pal Anthony Morrow. The ex-Net is still one of the league's best three point shooters and this season is hitting on 49 percent of his attempts from downtown, tops in the league. He doesn't give you much of anything else, but you can live with that if he continues to be exemplary from behind the arc.

Player to watch: Anthony Davis

As expected, Davis is taking the place of the injured Kobe Bryant on the All Star team. You could make a case that he should have been named to the team from the jump, but that's neither here nor there at this point. He missed some time with a fractured hand early in the season but is fine now.

I didn't know this, but Davis worked to change his shot in the summer. By the numbers, we see the improvement. After shooting only 29 percent from the midrange area last season, Davis is at a respectable 42.6 percent in his sophomore season and is a touch better at the free throw line. His improvements on that end have allowed him to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. Drew Garrison over at the mothership has more:

Put shorter: He makes the most of his physical attributes, instincts and expanding basketball I.Q. to score the majority of his points without having a ton of plays directly called for him, though that is slowly changing.

Instead of being stifled from attempting mid-range jumpers, he's feeling out his range. He's learning how he can be effective in the post instead of being boxed into robotic moves that aren't in his arsenal. He's pushing and prodding any limitations instead of living a basketball life restricted by them. These are the things that will make him dangerous in the future.

He's already a pretty capable defender. He's one of the league's best shot blockers and rim protectors. He's tops in the league in total blocks, blocks per game and is holding opponents to 45 percent at the rim, an elite mark. He's officially listed at 6'10, but has the reach of a dude that's like 20 feet tall. He's quick, agile and can hang in if left defending a player on the perimeter. You can make a pretty strong case that Davis isn't being used to his maximum ability but he's good already with more room to grow. The team allows the same amount of points per 100 possessions whether Davis is in or out of the lineup, but NOLA is much better on the glass and force more turnovers with Davis on the court.

Davis will be seeing a lot of Kevin Garnett in this contest. Davis has drawn comparisons to Garnett, and it's not a bad one. At his best, Garnett was a player that could do everything on the court. He'd give you great defense, control the glass, and provide efficient scoring even when he was the only option on offense (never forget that Garnett got the "can't deliver in the postseason" rap for YEARS). In fact, Garnett is one of only ten players in league history to average 20 points, ten rebounds, and five assists per game for an entire season. Garnett has slowed down considerably from those days but is still intense and ought to be raring for this game after getting Friday night off.

Having Garnett back will certainly help the Nets on the glass, but it might not be enough to slow Davis down. Davis is quicker than any player in the Nets frontcourt and figures to consistently beat them to spots on the court. His ability to cut to the basket and length will make life hell on Garnett and the Nets when they run pick and rolls. Davis is only 220 pounds and that lack of weight could come into play as he defends Andray Blatche in the paint. Of course, the Nets have to hope that Blatche stays in the paint and doesn't try to do too much.

From the Vault

Hey remember when the NBA didn't have instant replay?


More reading: The Bird Writes

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