Back to back. After a rough patch that saw some embarrassing losses, the Brooklyn Nets have won their last two games. They went into Charlotte on Saturday and obliterated the Hornets 114-87. The Nets are 10-12 and despite some truly God-awful losses, are still in good position to make another trip to the playoffs. Focusing on more immediate matters, this is the first night of a back-to-back. They head to Toronto to play the division leading Raptors on Wednesday evening.
Coming into town will be the Miami Heat. As expected, things haven't gone as well as last season. The Heat are off to a mediocre start, but like the Nets, are in good position to make the playoffs. It pays to be in a terrible conference. They lost their last game on Sunday 93-75 to the Chicago Bulls. This is the first night of a back-to-back for the Heat. They go home to play the Jazz on Wednesday night.
Where to follow the game
On television, the YES Network has got you covered. On the radio, check out WFAN 101.9 FM. Tip off is scheduled for a bit after 7:30.
We probably won't be seeing Brook Lopez. He's missed the last week with a back injury and will miss this week as well. Mirza Teletovic has also been out of action recently, missing the last two games with a hip injury. His status is unknown as of this writing.
For the Heat, Chris Bosh missed the last game with a left calf strain and didn't travel to Brooklyn. Free agent Josh McRoberts won't play tonight and might miss the rest of the season with a right lateral meniscus tear. Dywane Wade (stomach virus).
What's the story with these clubs? Since we're asking questions...
Offensive Rebounding Rate
Free Throw Rate
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage
The Heat won the first meeting 95-83.
Who's ready for some more trade rumors? Last week there was a report that Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez were on the trading block. This week there are reports that the Nets had a conversation with the Charlotte Hornets about Lance Stephenson. The Nets aren't serious about this yet, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on.
If there's anything good about an injury to a player like Lopez, it's that players who wouldn't usually get playing time have a great opportunity to impress coaches and fans. For the Nets, Cory Jefferson was the lucky player. He got the start against Charlotte and made all five of his field goal attempts. Kevin Garnett figures to be back so Jefferson will be coming off of the bench. With talk that Lopez might be the "odd man out," players like Jefferson and Mason Plumlee are essential for Brooklyn.
It's been a while since Wade was the lead option on offense for the Heat, but he's doing his job on that end so far. Before the season started, I had a chance to chat with Hot Hot Hoops' Matt Pineda about all things Heat. Here's what he told me when I asked about any misperceptions about Miami:
Dwyane Wade isn't washed up. I think a lot of people see the time he has missed and his numbers declining as a way to take a stab at the guy. But after watching every game last year, I can tell you...he's still Dwyane Wade. He took a back seat to LeBron the past few years and he is getting older, but he still has it. I think he will show people this year that he is still an elite player.
In 17 games, Wade is averaging 21 points and six assists in 32 minutes a game. One of the staples of Wade's game is his ability to finish near the rim. Wade is shooting 67.8 percent inside of the restricted area, well above the league average. Sergey Karasev, Bojan Bogdanovic and the other Nets that will guard Wade have to be cognizant of his cutting to the basket. If they take their eyes off of him for a second, it's two points for Miami.
Deron Williams will once again be tasked with initiating the offense, and while his shot has been hit or miss recently, his passing has made up for it. He's handed out 20 assists to only four turnovers in his last two games but has only made four of his last 19 field goal attempts. With Johnson back, Williams doesn't need to score so he can focus on distributing. The guard combination of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole will be covering Williams.
Player to watch: Luol Deng
Deng has the unenviable task of replacing LeBron James, and so far at least, he's done a pretty decent job. Deng is averaging 14 points and five rebounds while shooting 49.6 percent (the second highest of his career) in 31 minutes a game. Deng has only missed two games this season. He spent most of last year injured and unhappy so having him out there virtually every night is key for Miami.
Deng will draw the assignment of guarding Joe Johnson. Johnson is coming off of his best game in a while, scoring 22 points and making four three pointers against Charlotte. Although the Heat have been ravaged by injury, they're still much better than the Hornets right now. With that said, Deng is the ideal defender for a player like Johnson. His size and length match up perfectly with Johnson and has shown himself to be a good defender throughout his career.
From the Vault
Christmas Day is next Thursday, and with that in mind, let's go back to 2004 and see how Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant spent their Christmas with each other.
More reading: Hot Hot Hoops
One final note
On Sunday evening, Nets super fan Jeffrey Gamblero passed away due to injuries he sustained from a fall. In a statement, Brett Yormark said:
A proud Brooklynite, Jeffrey was a passionate Nets fan and one of our most visible and loyal supporters. I was delighted that he joined the team on our trip to London last season and I always enjoyed his enthusiasm while dancing and cheering during Nets games at Barclays Center. The entire organization expresses our deepest condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed."
Jeffrey is survived by his fiancée Kristi Evans, his parents and his sister. He will be missed. The Nets plan to honor Gamblero with a tribute Tuesday.
- Brooklyn Nets: Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Miami Heat Game Notes - Miami Heat
- Heat-Nets Preview - Noey Kupchan - STATS LLC
- In awful Eastern Conference, no need for Nets to redo roster - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets’ Brook Lopez still another three games away from return - Brian Lewis - New York Post
Brook Lopez frustrated by latest ailment that's likely to cost him three more games - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Brook Lopez: I'll go with flow - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Nets players remember late superfan Jeffrey Gamblero - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Nets' Brook Lopez on the mend - Pete Caldera - The Record
- Brook Lopez to miss at least 3 more games - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN
- Nets’ Lopez to Miss Three Games With Back Injury - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Nets Reflect on the Loss of Barclays’ Favorite Fan Jeffrey Vanchiro - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
Miami Heat: Josh McRoberts could miss remainder of season with knee injury - Shandel Richardson - South Florida Sun-Sentinel