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Nets try to avoid disaster against the Sixers

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John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Yikes. After an overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, the Brooklyn Nets played host to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. What happened? The Nets had their worst game of the month so far with an ugly 89-81 loss. The Nets have lost their last three games. This is also the first night of a back-to-back for Brooklyn. They head to Detroit on Saturday night.

On the other side will be the Philadelphia 76ers. Thanks to the New York Knicks, Philly is no longer the worst team in the league. Depending on how you feel about their rebuilding project, that can be either a good or bad thing. They lost their last game on Wednesday to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Where to follow the game

YES Network has got you covered on the television side. WFAN will be broadcasting the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders (head to In Lou We Trust and Lighthouse Hockey for coverage on that) so you need to tune in to WCBS 880 AM for coverage on the Nets. Tip off is scheduled for a bit after 7:30.

Injuries

Something funny happened with Deron Williams. He went from questionable to doubtful to active for the game against Boston. He only played five minutes against Boston and is now out indefinitely with a fractured rib.

For the Sixers, Jason Richardson might be coming back soon. The 12 year veteran hasn't played since January 2013 due to a combination of knee surgery and a stress fracture in his foot, but hopes to return by the end of the month. Of course, the first thing that comes to my mind with J-Rich these days is...

As for the other guys, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Hollis Thompson are questionable.

The game

What's the story with these Atlantic Division teams? Let's get it:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Philadelphia

Record

16-19 5-29

Pace

94.36 99.31

Offensive Efficiency

99.9 90.7

Defensive Efficiency

102.5 103.7

Turnover Rate

15.2 19.3

Assist Rate

16.4 15.1

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.8 25.1

Rebounding Rate

48.9 47.9

Free Throw Rate

27.5 30.7

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.8 45.3

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.3 51.5

The Nets won the first meeting in November and the second in December. Both games were in Philadelphia.

There was a trade involving Philly. They picked up Jared Cunningham from the Los Angeles Clippers but it doesn't seem likely that they will keep him. On a related note, Sam Hinkie is playing dirty with ex Net Andrei Kirilenko. I can only imagine a stunt like this hurting Philadelphia when they start recruiting free agents in a couple of years. Oh, and Kirilenko is suspended without pay too. Nothing on the Nets front yet.

That style clash rears its ugly head again. The Sixers play at the league's third fastest pace while Brooklyn is at one of the slowest. If Philly can get out in transition, they have a great chance to pick up their sixth victory of the season. What will help the Nets immensely is Philadelphia's propensity to cough the ball up. Philly turns it over 19 percent of the time they have the ball, leading the league. If Brooklyn can slow the game down, they will be able to force the young Sixers into making mistakes.

Optics matter. When your team has lost the last three games and you're one of the best players on the team, you can't be out here giving up on a loose ball. Brook Lopez had been playing well lately, but had his worst game of the month on Wednesday. Having him healthy and in the post every game will help the offense sustain itself while Deron is out. Lionel Hollins has been pushing Lopez to become an even tougher player, and with the schedule difficulty going up to 10, now would be the perfect time for it to kick in.

For about the past year and change, the Nets offense has revolved around Joe Johnson. Johnson has always been a reliable scorer and with the injuries to the other two members of the Big Three, the onus has fallen onto him to run the offense. The transition into 2015 hasn't gone well for Johnson as of yet. What was once a reliable three point shot has abandoned him, having made six of his last 40 three point attempts.

After winning the Rookie of the Year last year, it's been a disastrous season for Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams only shot 41 percent last season, but that would be great compared to what's been happening this year. He's shooting 37 percent and is taking more long two pointers and three pointers than last season. Defending MCW should be simple enough (relatively speaking of course) for the Nets. If they can keep him out of the lane and off of the free throw line, MCW won't be effective.

Player to watch: Tony Wroten

As it so happens, Wroten is on the trading block. So far, the Los Angeles Clippers have been linked to the third year player. On the surface, a 17 point per game average is pretty impressive, but when you dig into it a bit, there are some worries. Like a lot of his teammates, Wroten has a turnover problem. He averages four turnovers a night, and is ninth in total turnovers (a product of the team's fast pace). What helps Wroten is his propensity to get to the rim. He drives to the basket about 11 times a game, which is good for sixth highest in the league. If he were to go to a quality team, that ability to get to the rim will do wonders in getting spot up shooters quality looks from deep.

It'll be up to Sergey Karasev to keep Wroten out of the paint. Karasev has endeared himself to Hollins as of late and will be the team's starter for the foreseeable future with Bojan Bogdanovic out of the rotation. Brooklyn will try to keep Wroten from getting to the rim. Wroten is only a 26 percent shooter from three point range.

From the Vault

This was the 76ers' first playoff appearance since the 1991 Eastern Conference semifinals. Head back to 1999 and see if Allen Iverson and friends could finish off Penny Hardaway and the Orlando Magic.

More reading: Liberty Ballers