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Nets look to get back on track in Detroit

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In yesterday's game preview, I titled the story "Nets try to avoid disaster against the Sixers." Well, disaster struck. The Nets managed to go cold in the fourth quarter and lost their fourth consecutive game, the last three coming at home. Fortunately for the Nets, the bottom of the Eastern Conference is horrendous so they are still in playoff position.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Detroit Pistons. Things have been going incredibly well for the D lately, but they fell a bit short in their comeback attempt against the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks last night. There's no shame in losing to the Hawks, and it's still a bit shocking to see how good they have been this season. More on that at a later date. Detroit is still well below .500, but they are quickly making up ground in the race to capture the eighth seed in the East.

Where to follow the game

On TV, head to the YES Network. It's the second weekend of the NFL Playoffs so the Nets won't be on WFAN (The first game is Baltimore and New England. Pats Pulpit and Baltimore Beatdown have you covered. The primetime affair is Carolina going to play the defending Super Bowl champions in Seattle. Head to Cat Scratch Reader and Field Gulls for more.). WCBS 880 AM has the Nets and the game will tip off after 7:30 PM.

Injuries

It's gonna be a while before we see Deron Williams in a Net uniform due to the strained rib cage he suffered against Boston.

Andre Drummond played, but he's been dealing with a sickness this week. He'll probably play, but he might not be all that effective.

The game

Let's see what these clubs have been up to

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Detroit

Record

16-20 12-24

Pace

94.28 95.76

Offensive Efficiency

99.7 100.4

Defensive Efficiency

102.4 103.5

Turnover Rate

15.4 14

Assist Rate

16.4 15.9

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.8 27

Rebounding Rate

49 50.4

Free Throw Rate

27.7 26.2

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.7 47.5

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.3 50.1

The Nets won the first meeting in late October and the second in mid December.

After the second loss to the Nets, the Pistons cut Josh Smith. Since that point, they've gone 7-1 and have been outscoring points by 14.6 points per 100 possessions. There were some complaints about the level of competition they faced during their seven game winning streak, but they did beat the Spurs and Mavericks on their homecourts.

During this losing streak, the Nets haven't been able to cross 90 points. Even when Williams was here, the offense was underachieving and all signs point to that continuing for the near future. Joe Johnson was expected to carry the load, but he's gone cold in recent games. This is when you need your big time players to step up. It won't get any easier for Brooklyn after this.

Lionel Hollins has been working to make Brook Lopez a better big man, but you have to wonder what he was thinking keeping him on the bench for most of the fourth quarter. He and Mason Plumlee are the only bright spots for the Nets right now and they need to be on the court as much as possible. Even at his diminished state, Drummond can be a terror on the glass. It's more likely we see Anthony Tolliver play the majority of the minutes. He's coming off of a great game against the Hawks and can stretch the floor with his three point shot. More importantly, he can defend Lopez in the low post and force him out onto the perimeter.

After Smith left, there were talks that the Pistons might get rid of Brandon Jennings next. He came in at the same time and struggled in a lot of the same ways Smith did. However, BJ's game has dramatically improved since Smith's exit. He's shooting 50 percent from the field and is averaging seven assists during that time period, and has had a history of playing well against Brooklyn. Jarrett Jack has played reasonably well since he's been in the starting lineup

Player to watch: Greg Monroe

He missed two games at the beginning of the season thanks to a drunk driving arrest, but has appeared in everything else after it. Like everybody else, he's been playing well since December 22. He's collected five straight double doubles and has been great at the free throw line. He's always been a solid passing big man, and now that the team has more space to work with on offense, shooters on the team have had the opportunity to flourish. He's going to be a free agent this off-season, and I wonder if Stan Van Gundy and the rest of Pistons management will keep him. It looks like they have a real good thing going.

Kevin Garnett sat out last night for rest (he doesn't play back to backs anymore). He figures to be back for this game and will work to keep Monroe out of the paint. The big guy can make the occasional jump shot, but his game is much more suited for the low post. As for Garnett, he's the team's best rebounder and his energy will be needed to shake the malaise that has enveloped the Nets.

From the Vault

This was the first time Detroit had won a playoff game since the 1992 Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Knicks. Head back to 1997 and see what Grant Hill could do in his prime.

More reading: Detroit Bad Boys