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Nets come home to host Deron Williams (maybe?) & the Mavs

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Better days?
Better days?
Warren Little/Getty Images

That was desperately needed. On a day where the team was criticized by one of their former players (more on that in a bit) and in the media, the Nets came away with a much needed 105-102 victory over the Chicago Bulls. It snapped their five game losing streak and was their second road victory of the season. After this, they get Christmas off before playing the Wizards on Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center.

Coming into Brooklyn this evening will be the Dallas Mavericks. Coming into the season, they weren't expected to compete for a playoff spot, but two months in, they're fourth in the Western Conference. This is the second night of a back-to-back for the Mavs. They made a furious comeback late vs the Raptors yesterday, but came up four points short. After this game, they get Christmas off and return to action against the Bulls on Saturday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV (unless you have Comcast, then you are out of luck), WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Shane Larkin has missed the past four games due to a concussion, and is listed as probable for tonight's game.

Deron Williams strained his left hamstring last night and didn't return. D-Will reported hearing a pop, and that's never good. It sounds as if he'll miss this game.

The game

Run the numbers

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Dallas

Record

8-20 15-13

Pace

98.18 98.6

Offensive Efficiency

97.5 102

Defensive Efficiency

104 101.2

Turnover Rate

15.5 13.7

Assist Rate

16.2 16.7

Offensive Rebounding Rate

24.1 20

Rebound Rate

50.4 49.4

Free Throw Rate

22.4 27.1

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.5 49.3

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

51.8 49.3

Considering the state of the roster and the low expectations coming into the year, it's pretty damn impressive to see the Mavs right in the middle of the West. Shout out to Rick Carlisle.

Chandler Parsons underwent knee surgery in the offseason and has been working his way back into top form throughout the season. His season has been inconsistent, but it appears that he's starting to turn things around. He shot over 50 percent in two games last week and played a season high 32 minutes against Memphis on December 18. He hasn't played both ends of a b2b yet this season, and the team is aiming for him to do so tonight. He played  If Parsons is able to play similarly to when he was a Rocket, the Mavs have a good chance of making the postseason.

Brook Lopez will have a tough matchup on the inside tonight. Zaza Pachulia is fourth in the league in rebounding and serves as their defensive anchor on the inside. He does a great job of protecting the rim and is better than you'd think defending pick and rolls. Lopez had a good against the Bulls big men and job one (as always) for the Nets should be getting him the ball.

The old man's in his eighteenth season, and he's still incredible. Dirk Nowitzki doesn't dominate like he used to, but he's still highly effective and an integral part of the Mavs attack. He's averaging 17 points and seven rebounds in only only 29 minutes a night. He accomplished the 50/40/90 shooting percentages (field goal/three point/free throw) back in 2006-2007, and he's currently at 48/39/89. He doesn't appear to be retiring any time soon (tho an April Fools joke from our friends at Mavs Moneyball had folks PRESSED), so it's likely he continues to play until he's 40. HeAnd for people like me that bring food from home to work every day, Dirk is one of us! For Thaddeus Young, he's got to stay close to Dirk or risk giving him clean looks from three point range. Young hasn't shot well from the field recently, but snapped out of it with 8-15 from the field against the Bulls. Thad continued his excellent glass work during that stretch as he picked up 10+ rebounds three times over the past five games.

Player to watch: Deron Williams

IT'S THE RETURN OF DEVIN HARRIS! Wait, wrong former Nets point guard...

In case you haven't heard, this is D-Will's first game against the Nets since he left the club in the off-season. Deron's been making the media rounds and had this to say last night:

"Those Brooklyn fans, they expected more out of me. I expected more out of myself. Injuries are tough, man. Somebody that's been injured year after year, they can attest. They take a toll on you physically. It takes a toll on you mentally.

That's how it goes sometimes. It sounds as if he won't play tonight, which sucks. He's played pretty decently as a Mav. His shooting percentage is up, and even though he's barely getting to the rim, he's made close to 60 percent of his shots inside of three feet. If you recall last season, that was an area where he had a lot of difficulty. At least when we look at his numbers, there doesn't appear to be *much* of a change in D Will's performance from last year to this one. But, there's something to be said for being in an environment you don't consider to be toxic. It's easier to play well when you're happy, (mostly) healthy and don't the weight of the world on your shoulders. It sounds as if Williams is happy in Big D and while the ending with Brooklyn was incredibly ugly, he should get a few cheers from the fans that showed up and some dap from his former teammates.

In the event Williams doesn't play...

(Another) Player to watch: Wesley Matthews

Matthews was playing well for the Blazers last season and they were near the top of the West when everything ended in an instant. Wes tore his Achilles tendon in March against the Mavs and missed the rest of the season and postseason. Making matters worse was that the injury occurred right when he was entering free agency. Fortunately, the injury didn't hurt him too much as he signed a four year, $52 million contract right before the DeAndre Jordan saga got really nutty.

Achilles injuries are hell, and it's a great sign that Wes is even on the court. Even though he tied a franchise recordwhen he made ten three pointers in a game two weeks ago (he shares the record with George McCloud), it's been a bad year for Matthews. He's at career lows in field goal percentage and three point percentage and is getting to the foul line at a career low rate as well. He recently spoke about his struggles and said:

"I'm tired of hurting the team," Matthews said after the loss. "I'm tired of missing shots. I put everything I have into this game -- I have since I started playing. I put everything I had to into getting back and being ready. I'm just trying to keep the doubt out."

Matthews is a good player and it takes time to recover from serious injuries like these. I think he'll be back to playing like we're used to seeing him in the second half of the season as he's further away from the injury.

Matthews will be guarding Bojan Bogdanovic. Bojan scored an efficient 12 points and made two three pointers on Monday night. The Nets are still the worst and least active team from three point range this year, while the Mavs have done a good job of defending the three point line.

From the Vault

I think it's safe to say D-Will made everyone forget about the first meeting with Jeremy Lin and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

More reading: Mavs Moneyball