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Nets & Rockets put their streaks on the line

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"It's a celebration [redacted] every time I show up"
"It's a celebration [redacted] every time I show up"
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Five straight. What had been a bad week for the Brooklyn Nets got a little bit worse as they lost their fifth consecutive game, this time on the road to the improving Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Even with this disastrous stretch of play, the Nets are still in position to make the playoffs. After this game, the Nets host Memphis before playing a home and home set with the Washington Wizards.

Four straight. Making the trip into the Barclays Center will be the Houston Rockets. The Rockets currently occupy the third seed in the Western Conference and have won their last four games, including Saturday night's contest against the Utah Jazz. The Rockets head to Orlando on Wednesday night before returning home to play two showcase games against Oklahoma City and Golden State. Both of those games will be on national TV for those wondering.

Where to follow the game

On television, head over to the YES Network. On the radio, tune in to 101.9 FM WFAN. Tip off is scheduled for a bit after 7:30.

Injuries

Deron Williams is still out with a rib injury.  Markel Brown is out with a strained meniscus. Both will be re-evaluated this week.

Terrence Jones is out with a knee injury for Houston.

The game

What's the story with these two? Let's find out

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Houston

Record

16-21 26-11

Pace

94.31 97.77

Offensive Efficiency

99.6 102.6

Defensive Efficiency

102.5 98

Turnover Rate

15.3 17.6

Assist Rate

16.5 15.7

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.8 28.9

Rebounding Rate

49 51.3

Free Throw Rate

27.2 30

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.7 50.6

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.3 47.6

This seems unbelievable considering the history, but this is the first time Dwight Howard will be in the Barclays Center. I did more on Dwight before the season, so you can head there. In the meantime, he'll be dealing with the Nets trio of big men. When Brook Lopez enters the game, I would expect to see some commentary about the trade that never was. Lopez has been shooting more jump shots these days, but the Nets need to feature him in the low post early and often. If he can get Dwight in foul trouble, the Nets chances of pulling off the upset will rise dramatically. The backup big men for Houston aren't particularly good.

The Nets have been one of the weaker three point defenses in the league this season, and they're going to be dealing with a team that lives behind the arc. The Rockets are well on pace to set the single season record for three pointers attempted. HowThe Magic from the 2009-2010 and 2008-2009 seasons have the record, and Houston has already attempted 1250 three pointers in 37 games. They're only shooting 34.9 percent from deep, but being league average from deep while taking that many from downtown is extremely valuable. The Nets rotations have to be on point and they need to avoid double teaming whenever possible. Any false move and it's three points for H-Town.

During this losing streak, the Nets have only crossed the 90 point threshold once. The Rockets have been the league's second best defense in the league this year. They're only allowing 98 points per 100 possessions and foes are only shooting 47.6 percent from the field. A lot of that defensive excellence is due to the presence of Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverly. Both of them put a lot of pressure on the ball and can guard multiple positions. Joe Johnson has not been playing well during this losing streak, and the onus is on him to have a big night scoring the ball.

Player to watch: James Harden

Harden has been one of the best players in the league for a while and he's managed to get better. He's leading the league in scoring at 26.8 points a night and is also averaging almost seven assists and six rebounds a night. Harden can get to the rim at will and it's a big reason why he's number one in free throws made and attempted. Aesthetically speaking it's aggravating, but Harden can draw a foul every time he touches the ball and at the rate he makes them, it's a guaranteed two points. Defensively, he hasn't been bad at all. He's seventh in steals, the Rockets haven't been worse as a team when he's on the court, and from when I've seen him, he's much more engaged on that side of the ball. Harden defense jokes are still funny, but he's forcing us to shut up.

Bojan Bogdanovic is back in the starting lineup, and he'll have to deal with an MVP candidate. With Houston's propensity to shoot threes and Harden's amazing ability to get to the rim, coming to help will be extremely dangerous. The Nets are going to have to hope that the Rockets are off from three point range tonight. When Bojan has the ball, he should look for his shot early and often.

From the Vault

On Saturday night, Pau Gasol scored 46 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks. That feat has only been accomplished 17 times in NBA history. Hakeem Olajuwon did it three times and Shaquille O'Neal did it five times. With that in mind, head on back to the 1995 NBA Finals and see if Dream could complete the sweep against Shaq's Orlando Magic.

More reading: The Dream Shake