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Struggling Nets take a trip to Indiana

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

LET'S GO HEAT! Only problem with that is the game was in Brooklyn and not Miami. The Nets wound up losing to the Heat and finished their six game homestand at 2-4. Brooklyn's also lost their last three games. They're only spending one day on the road before heading back to Barclays to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon.

Waiting for them will be the Indiana Pacers. Indy's been having a fantastic season and find themselves third in the Eastern Conference. They've won their last two games, including a 26 point romp over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. This is the first half of a back-to-back for the Pacers. They're in Memphis to play the Grizzlies on Saturday.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV (unless you're one of Comcast's 900,000 sightless), WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip's after 7 PM.

Injuries

Shane Larkin suffered a concussion in practice on Tuesday and missed the  game on Wednesday. He's out indefinitely. Thomas Robinson is feeling a bit under the weather and his status for tonight is unknown. Sergey Karasev hasn't played recently thanks to a bum left ankle and since he usually doesn't play to begin with, probably won't be on the court tonight. Wayne Ellington is questionable with a strained left shoulder.

First round draft pick has been out since mid November with a fracture in his left thumb and is recovering from surgery.

The game

Run the numbers

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Indiana

Record

7-18 15-9

Pace

98.24 99.82

Offensive Efficiency

97.4 103.2

Defensive Efficiency

104 98.7

Turnover Rate

15.6 14.8

Assist Rate

16 15.7

Offensive Rebounding Rate

24.3 23.3

Rebound Rate

50.8 49

Free Throw Rate

22.7 28.7

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.5 50.1

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

52.2 48.8

Where ever you are, being on the same page with your colleagues is incredibly important. It's a sign that everything is working well and you limit the chances of making a needless error. The Nets weren't on the same page and found themselves in a situation after the game where Lionel Hollins said he told the players to foul down five late in the game while all the players said that didn't happen. Hollins accepted blame for the miscommunication and how they handle late game situations from here on out will be something to keep a close eye on. Yeah, it's bad here.

Paul George is back and better than ever. George was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November after averaging 29.5 points and 8.2 rebounds a game while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 49.5 percent from three point range. He's taken a bit of a step back this month, but he's getting to the free throw line a bit more often. There was some concerns about how he'd fit playing a new position, but so far so good. There's still room for improvement, as he told the mothership's Paul Flannery:

"Still trying to figure out floor spacing. Where I can get shots, where I can get aggressive, where I can be a playmaker. There's still so much to unravel."

Here's another instance where the Nets miss Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. RHJ was/is the best Brooklyn perimeter defender and would've been assigned to PG. It would've been a great test for Hollis-Jefferson and without him, the responsibility for defending him will be (even more of) a group effort. Joe Johnson will be first up. JJ is having the worst season of his career but leads the team in total minutes and is 19th overall in the league in that category. Hollins finds himself in a bit of a pickle as it relates to Johnson and his minutes allocation. Johnson is a good candidate to have his minutes decreased, but the team doesn't really have anyone that can be expected to work as the second option on offense. But to be fair, Johnson hasn't worked either. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Brook Lopez broke out of his mini slump on Wednesday. He scored an efficient 25 points, grabbed six rebounds, and mos importantly, didn't commit a single turnover in 28:09 of game action. There have been many instances of stretches in the fourth quarter this year where Lopez isn't featured in the offense as much as should be, and on Wednesday he only took two fourth quarter shots vs the Heat. We keep saying it, but that can't happen if the Nets want to come away with victories. He'll get another shot at it tonight vs Ian Mahinmi. Even as Indy has revamped their style of play, he's averaging a career high 23.8 minutes a night. He's shooting 57 percent from the field, but he's not really someone they need to score. He's second on the team in rebounding rate, leads them in blocks per game and is holding opposing big men to 29 percent shooting in the low post when he is guarding them. Getting Lopez moving in space will be key for Brooklyn tonight.

Player to watch: Monta Ellis

After two quality years in Dallas, Ellis did not return to the Mavs and instead joined the Pacers on a four year, $44 million contract. Ellis' stats aren't sexy, but it's important to note that he underwent knee surgery in the offseason and the combination of joining a new team and a new team that changed their style of play would naturally lead to some early struggles. Monta has earned a rep as being a gunner that didn't consistently get his teammates involved in the offense, but that hasn't been the case 1.5 months into his tenure in Indiana.

Bojan Bogdanovic will be at the two guard for Brooklyn and it'll be interesting to see how his minutes are allocated tonight. He played a season high 40 minutes against the Heat on Friday and will be facing some challenging perimeter players as part of a back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. He can score over the top of Ellis, but Monta is a lot faster than him and might look to take it to the rim more often than he has so far this year. We should see a fair amount of Markel Brown in this game to help with the defense.

From the Vault

To this day, I still believe the Pacers would have, at minimum, made the Finals in 2005 if the Malice at the Palace didn't happen. It's probably one of the biggest "What Ifs" of the 2000's in the NBA.

More reading: Indy Cornrows