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Nets try to keep it close, maybe even win vs Clippers

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"Got em jumping out the building, watch out below!"
"Got em jumping out the building, watch out below!"
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Almost doesn't count and the Brooklyn Nets' season is still sinking. The Nets came home to play the Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors, and despite an inspired comeback, they fell short in overtime by a final score of 127-122. They are on a four game losing streak. Brooklyn is currently 1.5 games behind the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference standings.

Coming into the Barclays Center will be the Los Angeles Clippers. Hard to believe that a team 18 games over .500 is underachieving, but here we are. That being said, they are coming off a 20 point road victory in San Antonio on Saturday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on the television, and WFAN 101.9 FM on your radio dial. Tip off is scheduled for after 7:30 PM.

Injuries

Deron Williams is listed as questionable for this contest. He's been inching his way back to action and the Nets need him in the worst way. Joe Johnson missed practice due to personal reasons and his status is unknown as of this writing.

All clear for the Clips.

The game

What's the story? Let's get into it:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Los Angeles

Record

18-28 33-15

Pace

94.38 96.24

Offensive Efficiency

99.7 110.8

Defensive Efficiency

104.4 103.3

Turnover Rate

15 12.5

Assist Rate

16.3 18.9

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.9 22.4

Rebounding Rate

48.7 49.8

Free Throw Rate

27 30.1

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.5 53.4

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.4 50.1

The Clippers won the first meeting in LA.

Nothing happening on the trade front yet. The Denver Nuggets are reportedly interested in Lopez, but they don't want to trade away any future assets that will help them compete in a couple of years. Naturally, the Nets aren't looking to trade Lopez away for nothing. There are also rumors that the Nets might be looking into buying out Kevin Garnett. As always, watch this space.

The Nets will be trying to avoid some history. They've lost seven consecutive games at home, tied for the second longest streak in franchise history.

I hate to do it, but it's gotta be done:

,

Lopez has been coming off of the bench for about a month, but that needs to change. Kevin Garnett hasn't come off the bench in 19 years (!), but his game has deteriorated and is best served as a mentor for young players like Mason Plumlee. Lopez has been relatively hit or miss, but was excellent against Jonas Valanciunas and the Raptors on Friday. He'll get another chance against one of the league's best big men in DeAndre Jordan. In addition to that jam, Jordan outhustled the Nets big men throughout the game and finished perfect from the field. In another year (or if he were in the Eastern Conference), Jordan would be headed to the All Star Game. He isn't, but he does lead the league in rebounds and is second in blocks. There was a pretty even split in where Lopez got his shot attempts and he'll need to do the same here. If the Nets can get Jordan into foul trouble. The backup big men are Glen Davis and Spencer Hawes, dramatic step downs from DJ. Brooklyn should get Lopez the ball early and he should lead the team in field goal attempts by the end of this game.

What happens when you have the best game of your career against one of the starting guards in the All Star Game? You face another All Star guard the next game. Jarrett Jack played a career high 52 minutes on Friday night (scored a career high 35 points too) and was instrumental in Brooklyn's comeback efforts. Unfortunately for him, he's going to see Chris Paul. The ten year veteran (yeah, we're getting old) is having his usual excellent season, averaging around 18 points and ten assists in 34 minutes a night. Paul can impact a game in a variety of ways, and what makes him so hard to cover is you never know when he's gonna go up for his shot or find a wide open teammate. In the first game against the Nets, he handed out a season high 17 assists in only 24 minutes. He can get to the rim against Jack, but look for him to set up three point shooters like J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford when they're on the court with him. LA is third best from downtown, converting on 38 percent of their attempts. The Nets on the other hand are one of the league's worst defensive teams from deep. Teams shoot 35.8 percent against Brooklyn, sixth highest in the league. If the Nets' defensive rotations aren't sharp in the early going, they stand a good chance of getting humiliated again.

Player to watch: Blake Griffin

This is Griffin's fifth season in the league, and his game has continued to expand. He's averaging almost 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists a night while shooting 50 percent from the field and a career high 72 percent from the free throw line. What's made Griffin's game different as compared to previous years is the increase in jumpers attempted. The big guy is actually taking more shots from 16 feet and further than he is at the rim, but it hasn't really hurt him. He's still an explosive finisher at the basket and is a cool 40.8 percent from 16 feet and out. That expansion in his game will do wonders for him in the playoffs when it becomes much more difficult to score at the basket.

He'll start off against Garnett, but he won't be out there for long. Garnett has only played more than 20 minutes three times in 11 2015 games. Blake will instead see a lot of the Plumlee-Lopez combo. Plumlee has the athleticism to keep up with Griffin but he has to watch out for any foul trouble. Cory Jefferson has played decently, but Plumlee is the  better option of the two. One last note. Griffin was the last big man to win the slam dunk contest (in his hometown) and since Plumlee will be in the dunk contest this year (in his hometown), maybe Blake will give him some tips. Or let him borrow that car.

From the Vault

Still on a dunk contest kick. This time we're headed to the 2011 edition.

More reading: Clips Nation