Nets open their three game road trip in Philly ... with KG?

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

That works. After a bad loss to the Knicks on Wednesday night, the Nets returned home to face the underachieving Detroit Pistons. Brooklyn was able to avoid the season sweep and came away with a 116-104 win. The Nets are 2.5 games behind Toronto and Chicago for the number three and four seeds respectively. It's not an impossible margin to make up, but with seven games to go, it doesn't seem likely.

Six games to go. It's been a long, arduous season for the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans. This is the second night of a back-to back for the Sixers, having won in Boston the night before.

This is the last meeting of the season between these teams. Brooklyn leads the season series 2-1, winning the first and most recent contest. Philadelphia won the second game.

The schedule is pretty light around the league this evening, but there are two games worth paying attention to for Brooklyn. The Bulls go to DC to play the Wizards and the Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors face the Bucks in Milwaukee.

The season so far

What's up here? Let's check:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Philadelphia

Record

41-34 17-59

Pace

93.71 101.85

Offensive Efficiency

104.6 96.1

Defensive Efficiency

104.5 107.2

Offensive Rebounding percentage

21.6 25

Turnover rate

15.1 16.6

Assist rate

16.8 16

Rebound rate

46.9 47.6

Free throw rate

31.2 26.7

Effective Field Goal percentage

51.4 47.1

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.6 52.2

The big news is that Kevin Garnett could return Saturday. Jason Kidd told beat writers after the win over Detroit that Garnett felt good after a workout Friday and the team would evaluate him after Friday night’s trip to Philadelphia.

"We’ll see in the morning how he feels," Kidd said. "We would like to get him to go, but it’s up to him."

Jason Kidd said Garnett felt good after a workout Friday and the team would evaluate him after Friday night’s trip to Philadelphia.

"We’ll see in the morning how he feels," Kidd said. "We would like to get him to go [against Philadelphia], but it’s up to him."

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/sports/high-school-sports/girls-basketball/nets-notes-a-return-for-kevin-garnett-1.842326#sthash.qGgYVzGE.dpuf

Brooklyn's depth has been a strength this second half. Last night, Shaun Livingston and Mirza Teletovic were the top performers on offense. Deron Williams hasn't been shooting well over the past week, but it hasn't hurt that much as Paul Pierce, Andray Blatche and the rest of the Nets have filled his scoring void. Of course they're gonna need Williams to play at a high level once the playoffs start, but Brooklyn will be alright until the season ends.

One problem the Sixers have is turning the ball over. Philadelphia leads the league in turnovers, averaging 16.6 per 100 possessions. This plays right into the strength of Brooklyn's defense because they are second in the league in forcing turnovers as they get teams to commit 16.7 turnovers per 100 possessions. The Sixers play at the fastest pace in the Association, and if the teams don't take care of the ball, we're going to see a lot of opportunities in the open court.

Player to watch: Michael Carter-Williams

Carter-Williams has been having a decent rookie campaign and is a sure bet to win Rookie of the Year. He's averaging 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. Although he's only shooting 50.78 percent inside of the restricted area, he (somewhat) makes up for it by getting to the free throw line five times a night. Back in December, here's what Liberty Ballers writer Roy Burton told us about MCW:

The most impressive thing with Michael Carter-Williams is that it's taken him very little time to adjust to the pace of the NBA. I won't go so far as to compare him to Penny Hardaway (as ESPN did recently), but if he's this good 15 games into his career (17.7 PPG, 7.3 APG, 5.8 RPG, a league-leading 3.1 SPG), imagine what he'll be after he has a few years under his belt.

Carter-Williams figures to be a major part of Philadelphia's rebuilding strategy going forward. A healthy trio of Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, and their upcoming draft pick are nice starting points for Philadelphia.

Shaun Livingston figures to draw Carter-Williams on defense. Like Carter-Williams, Livingston is quick, lengthy and does a good job of forcing turnovers. MCW's jump shot isn't there yet, so look for Livingston and the other Net defenders to play off of him and force him into contested midrange jump shots. He's a willing and capable passer, but outside of Thaddeus Young, who does he have to pass to?

From the Vault

The Sixers have a chance of winning the Number One pick in the upcoming Draft. Who'd they pick the last time they had Number One?


More reading: Liberty Ballers

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