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Nets open road trip in Sacramento

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"Now let me welcome everybody to the wild wild West"
"Now let me welcome everybody to the wild wild West"
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The road to the playoffs is getting even more difficult. The Nets lost the second leg of the home and home set against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night by a final of 99-90. They're still in the eighth position in the Eastern Conference, but are only 0.5 games in front of the Charlotte Hornets. The Nets have lost six straight games at home, so getting away from Barclays might do them some good. The bigger road trip starts next month.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Sacramento Kings. After a nice start to the season, things have gone downhill fast for Sacramento. They lost on Monday to the Portland Trailblazers 98-94 in Portland and have lost four straight games. They are in twelfth place in the West, but are only 4.5 games behind Oklahoma City for eighth place in the standings.

Where to follow the game

YES Network is the spot on television and WFAN 101.9 FM has you covered on the radio. Tip off is scheduled for after 10 PM.

Injuries

Deron Williams is with the team, but is still out.

For the Kings, Ramon Sessions and Carl Landry are both questionable.

The game

What's the story? Since we're asking questions around here

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Sacramento

Record

17-24 16-25

Pace

94.18 96.97

Offensive Efficiency

99.8 103.3

Defensive Efficiency

103 105.5

Turnover Rate

15.3 16.7

Assist Rate

16.3 15.2

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.8 27.9

Rebounding Rate

49 53.2

Free Throw Rate

27 37.2

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.8 49

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.6 49.5

The Nets won the first meeting back in December. And as it so happens, that was the last time the Nets won a game at Barclays Center.

One of the players that was rumored to be headed to Brooklyn back in December was Nik Stauksas. The rookie from Michigan has struggled with his shot, making only 33 percent of his field goal attempts and 27 percent from three point range. He hasn't played in the last two games and there's a good case to be made for him being demoted to the Developmental League. He's also in the news for something else, and I'll let Bomani Jones explain it:

Speaking of trades, nothing new on the Nets front. Trade deadline is a month away.

Nets fans have had criticisms of Lionel Hollins' performance, and the Kings have had similar critiques of interim head coach Tyrone Corbin. Late game execution figures to be crucial so it's worth watching what the respective coaches do.

The matchup at small forward should be interesting. Rudy Gay has rejuvenated his career playing in Sacramento. The wing man is averaging around 21 points, six rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes a game on a respectable .450/.387/.861 shooting line. Gay is a solid second option and when utilized correctly, is a major plus to the Kings attack. On the other side is Joe Johnson. Johnson still hasn't been able to put things together and his 2015 struggles continued against the Wizards. In ten January games, the former All Star is shooting only 35.8 percent from the field and is barely getting to the free throw line. As long as Williams is out, it's going to be up to Johnson to kick start the offense. Until he does, the team will struggle to score.

Player to watch: Demarcus Cousins

If you don't know, Cousins is one of the league's best big men. Boogie is having the best season of his young career, averaging 23.9 points and 12.6 rebounds in 33.6 minutes a night. What makes Boogie so troublesome to defend is his ability to hit jumpers. He's great in the low post and can reliably hit shots from 16+ feet. He's also incredibly agile for his size and can drive by slow footed defenders to the basket. As he gets older (and gets the benefit of some calls), he probably won't foul out as much as he does currently. LaMarcus Aldridge is out indefinitely with a left thumb injury, so all signs point to DMC being named to the All Star team for the first time (he's been more than good enough to be named without the injury, but you never know with these coaches). It would be a well deserved honor and he'd put on a great show in New York City.

The Nets trio of Plumlee, Brook Lopez, and Kevin Garnett will be tasked with the unenviable task of slowing Boogie down. He had a great game the first time he faced Sacramento, scoring 22 points and getting to the free throw line a career high 16 times. If he and Lopez are active on offense and the glass, they can get Boogie in foul trouble and dramatically increase Brooklyn's chances of winning. Sacramento is 11 points worse per 100 possessions when Cousins is out of the game.

From the Vault

Chris Webber and Tim Duncan in their primes? We can do that.

More reading: Sactown Royalty