The Nets are back at Barclays Center Tuesday, after visiting Canada, Great Britain and a nearby island whose residents they taught how to chant. Just as a blowout loss to the Knicks drove the Nets to want payback, the same could be said of the Magic. After all, it was the Magic's 107-86 win over the Nets in Orlando that sent the Nets into their early season spiral. It was Jason Kidd's first game as head coach as well and pundits saw it as evidence J-Kidd wasn't ready.
Things have changed. The Nets have now gone 7-1 since January 1, the Magic have one win in their last 10, a two-point victory Sunday vs. the inept Celtics. Only the Bucks have a worse record in the new year, having yet to win.
The Magic, who started the season with a few good wins, now seem to be headed towards a season only slightly better than last year's 20-win effort. Of course, the Nets took the athletic young Magic for granted in November...
The season so far
How have things been going for Tuesday's opponents? Let's take a look:
Offensive Rebounding percentage
Free throw rate
Effective Field Goal percentage
Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage
Deron Williams is back but it's not certain he'll start. He played well enough in his first game back and said he's willing to come off the bench as long as it helps the team, but Jason Kidd said he'll make the decision Tuesday on whether he'll be on the court at tip-off.
Joe Johnson has more than filled in. He has become Kidd's big threat. In three of the last four games, JJ has scored 20 points in the first half. "He’s been telling me: ‘Be ready. It’s coming to you early, every game,’ " Johnson said of his coach. "It’s not necessarily for me to score, but if the double team doesn’t come, he knows I’ll make the right play. And early in games, when they do come, we’re making them pay, and guys just get wide-open shots."
Andray Blatche is also having a bit of a renaissance. He's had back-to-back double-doubles, with 20 and 14 vs. Atlanta and 19 and 12 vs. New York. Since he returned from a four-game personal leave, Blatche has averaged 11 and 6 in seven games, shooting 47.5 percent overall, in 17.8 minutes per game.
The big stat for the Nets in their last two blowout wins has been assists. In the two games, the Nets have rung up 63 assists to the opponents' 39, a tribute to both their offense and defense.
On the injury front for the Magic, Nikola Vucevic is not expected to play after suffering a concussion. Everyone else appears healthy with Glen Davis aka Big Baby, filling in for Vucevic.
The switch of Davis for Vucevic is a big problem for Orlando as Evan Dunlap wrote Monday...
According to NBA.com/stats, the starting five on which coach Jacque Vaughn has settled in Vučević's absence--Jameer Nelson and Oladipo at the guards, Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris at the forwards, and Glen Davis at center--sports a minus-27.5 efficiency differential in 121 minutes together over 12 games; put another way, Orlando's opponents are outscoring it by 27.5 points per 100 possessions with that group on the floor.
In addition, two of the Magic's athletic young players, Andrew Nicolson and Maurice Harkless, have disappeared. Both are part of the Orlando re-build and are needed if that rebuild is gong to play out in the short term.
Player to Watch: Victor Oladipo
Back in November, Oladipo scored 19 points against the Nets in his first big game. The 21-year-old Indiana product has become a project for Jacque Vaughn who wants him to be a scoring point guard, perhaps a Dwyane Wade clone.
If that's to happen, Oladipo must develop a more consistent outside shot in addition to improving his passing and ballhandling skills. Does sound like a young Wade.
How's he doing? Here's Dunlap again...
There are still flaws in Oladipo's game, particularly his inability and disinclination to drive to his left, but it's clear he's becoming more comfortable reading opposing defenses out of the pick-and-roll. Further, he's curbed the hit-ahead passes that he'd badly overthrow into the baseline photographers in the first quarter of the year, instead getting those passes to their targets or holding onto the ball if the play isn't there.
From the Vault
At the beginning of the season from hell, 2009-10, the Nets opened at IZOD on an emotional note, the return of Vince Carter in a Magic uniform. It began with a standing ovation for the former Net and the second of 18 straight losses.
More reading: Orlando Pin-Striped Post
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Orlando Magic Game Notes - Orlando Magic
- Magic-Nets Preview - Jeff Bartl - STATS LLC
Small Ball Leading Nets' January Resurgence - Shlomo Sprung - Sheridan Hoops
- Victor Oladipo wants to be more aggressive the rest of the season - Jeff Robbins - Orlando Sentinel
- Orlando Magic face many question marks at the midway point of their season - Jeff Robbins - Orlando Sentinel