Close, but not quite. The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to pull off the upset in Houston on Friday night, but a couple of bad breaks led to them losing their second straight game, this time by a final of 102-98 to the Rockets. This is the last night of an eight game road trip that lasted most of February and included the All Star break. In the standings, things have gotten incredibly tight. Brooklyn is in tenth place in the Eastern Conference standings, 1.5 games behind seventh seeded Miami, one game behind eighth seeded Indiana, tied with Boston and Charlotte, and one game ahead of twelfth seeded Detroit.
The opponent on the last stop of this road trip will be the Dallas Mavericks. They've had a few days off since their last contest, a 104-87 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta. They're currently fifth in the Western Conference, two games behind Houston for the third seed, one and a half games behind Portland for fourth, and one half game ahead of the Clippers for fifth.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on the radio. Tip off is set for after 8:30.
Bojan Bogdanovic was supposed to be out for Brooklyn. He missed his third straight game with an ankle injury vs. Houston, but now is probable.
Chandler Parsons has been dealing with a bone bruise and missed the team's last three games.and if out again tonight. Tyson Chandler missed Wednesday's game with a hip injury and his status is up in the air for tonight.
What's going on? Let's check it:
Offensive Rebounding Rate
Free Throw Rate
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage
The Mavericks won the first meeting back in January.
We'll be seeing an old friend of ours. Richard Jefferson comes off the bench for the Mavs, and last week did this...
They called an offensive foul, but who the hell cares?
It's been a constant theme throughout the season, but the Nets lineup construction does leave a lot to be desired. Even though they don't play well together, Jarrett Jack and Deron Williams continue to get paired up.
He's down a bit compared to last year, but Dirk Nowitzki is still having another good season. The big guy is averaging around 18 points a game on 46 percent shooting. His size and fall away jumper make him almost impossible to cover in the low post. Thaddeus Young hasn't seen many minutes since joining the Nets, but that should change starting tonight. Young has slowed down some, but is still an athletic big man that can create trouble for Dirk.
Markel Brown will have another tough challenge on his hands. He played James Harden very well and will be covering Monta Ellis this evening. Ellis was a borderline All Star candidate this year and when he's playing well, he can break a defense down at will. Ellis is taking more deep two pointers than usual, but is shooting 43 percent from that range so it hasn't hurt.
Player to watch: Rajon Rondo
Rondo was suspended last game due to his blowup with Rick Carlisle on the sidelines. As is his wont, Rondo tends to piss off his head coaches and he'll probably clash with Carlisle again before the season ends. More importantly, the offense isn't as effective as they once were. With Rondo on the court, the Mavs are only averaging 103.9 points per 100 possessions, below their 108.3 average on the season and far below the 113.6 before the Rondo acquisition. It's an old problem for Rondo. His jump shot isn't working, he isn't getting to the free throw line much, and when he does get there, he's shooting a disastrous 28 percent. As expected, the team is better defensively and when the playoffs come, that is going to give them a good chance at making it past the first round. Over at Mavs Moneyball, Jonathan T. Jarks looks at the big picture and writes:
The whole point of getting Rondo was that he would ugly up the team and give them a better chance of winning in the playoffs when the game slows down and gets uglier. Rick Carlisle's teams run beautiful offense but they have won a grand total of one playoff series outside of 2011. The playoffs are a different beast and you need a guy like Rondo to win you those types of ugly, defensive-minded games. Maybe Rondo is no longer that guy - his free throw shooting is abysmal and it's more than a little embarrassing for a guy who considers himself a top-flight PG. At the moment, we don't know how it will play in the playoffs and if you are going to pull on the plug on the experiment before the playoffs even begin, what was the point of doing it in the first place?
Williams and Rondo will start off against each other. The numbers aren't sexy, but Williams has looked good running the offense. Even if Chandler plays, the Nets should look to feed Lopez on the low post. The Nets didn't display the best ball movement against Houston, and they should look to get Lopez touches repeatedly on the inside. When Rondo has the ball, the Nets should focus on making his passes extremely difficult. He's always turned the ball over a ton and you'd rather he try to beat you with jumpers than Dirk getting the ball in great scoring position.
From the Vault
Speaking of point guards, head on back to 2005 and see what Steve Nash did to his former team in the Conference Semifinals.
More reading: Mavs Moneyball
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Dallas Mavericks Game Notes - Dallas Mavericks
- Nets at Mavericks Game Preview - STATS LLC
Nets rewind: ‘Scared’ Markel Brown solid on defense against Harden - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Mavericks’ Chandler Parsons to miss fourth consecutive game when Dallas plays Nets - Eddie Sefko - Dallas News
- Mavericks’ Rajon Rondo ready to put ‘built-up frustration’ in the past - Eddie Sefko - Dallas News
- Spat with Carlisle, frustration in past, Rondo says he'll 'play his heart out' - Eddie Sefko - Dallas News