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Nets begin road trip vs Wizards

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"Throw your rollies in the sky, wave em side to side and keep their hands high"
"Throw your rollies in the sky, wave em side to side and keep their hands high"
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Three straight. The Brooklyn Nets came away with their third consecutive victory, beating the New York Knicks at home by a final of 92-88 on Friday night. They're still below .500 but are back in the top eight of the Eastern Conference. This is the second night of a back-to-back, but more importantly the beginning of a season long road trip that will last through the rest of February. With the trading deadline right around the corner, this is the important stretch of the season for the Nets.

The first opponent on this trip will be the Washington Wizards. The Wiz have been having a solid season and find themselves in the third position in the East. Unfortunately for them, they've lost five straight games, including Thursday night's contest in Charlotte. With the Cleveland Cavaliers rapidly rising in the standings, the Wiz need to turn things around quickly if they want to have homecourt in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for the locals, NBATV for the out of towners. On the radio, WFAN 101.9 has got you. Tip off is set for a bit after 7:00.

Injuries

Nothing doing for Brooklyn.

Starting shooting guard Bradley Beal is dealing with a toe injury and is questionable. Backup big man Kevin Seraphin is also questionable with an ankle injury.

The game

What's the story with these two clubs? Let's get into it

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Washington

Record

21-28 31-20

Pace

94.21 95.79

Offensive Efficiency

100.4 103.4

Defensive Efficiency

104.3 100.5

Turnover Rate

15 15.4

Assist Rate

16.4 18.5

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23 24.6

Rebounding Rate

48.8 51.6

Free Throw Rate

26.9 26.5

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.9 50.8

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.2 48.6

The teams played a back to back against  a few weeks ago. The Nets won the first night while the Wizards took the second.

While there haven't been any new developments in the rumor mill for Brooklyn, Washington might be onto something. The team has been linked to Minnesota's Kevin Martin and while nothing has been announced, definitely keep an eye out.

This ain't a good look at all.

Having Deron Williams back will help Jarrett Jack against John Wall. Even though he's not a good three point shooter, Wall's shot has still improved leaps and bounds compared to when he first came in the league. He's shooting a career high 46.2 percent from the field and when we take a closer look, we see that his percentages from the midrange are the reason why. Teams can't really lay back and dare him to shoot jumpers anymore because he will make defenses pay for it. Combine that with his league leading assist numbers and it's easy to see why he was voted as a starter to the Eastern Conference All Star team. One way the Nets can slow him down is to make him work really hard when they have the ball. Wall is second in the league in total minutes and with Andre Miller barely seeing any time on the court these days along with Beal's status being up in the air, Wall will have to carry the load for the backcourt. Jack has been great of late and has done well in managing the offense. He and Williams probably shouldn't share the court at the same time, but don't be surprised if Lionel Hollins pairs them up in the backcourt.

The frontcourt matchup between Brook Lopez and Marcin Gortat will have a major impact on this contest. Lopez had another terrific game on Friday, scoring a game high 22 points and grabbing nine rebounds off the bench. One of the criticisms he has received this year is his lack of presence on the inside. That's changed in recent weeks as Lopez is taking shots closer to the basket. He's always been an excellent low post scorer and that will make him a viable scoring option for the Nets whether he starts or continues to come off the bench. As for Gortat, he does everything a solid big man should. He hits the glass, can score on the inside and out, and gives you low post defense. Lopez outplayed Gortat the first night, and Gortat came back and evened things up the second night. What do these two have in common? Well...

and

It happens.

Player to watch: Paul Pierce

Things have going relatively well for the ex-Net. Pierce provides veteran experience and is still shooting well.  As you would expect, Pierce's minutes are down and is currently averaging a career low 27 minutes a night. As long as he is healthy come playoff time, he'll be ready to contribute. Even if Beal plays, Pierce should be the second option for the Wiz tonight. He hasn't had a big game against the Nets yet, and with the Wiz in desperate need of a win, he'll be motivated.

As the Nets have begun to turn things around, so has Joe Johnson. JJ's shooting 60 percent from the field over the last five games. Johnson and Pierce are an even match in terms of size and skill so they should cancel each other out. It'll be up to the role players like Bojan Bogdanovic and Rasual Butler to swing the game in their team's directions.

From the Vault

The last time DC had the All Star Game was 2001. You can tell where I'm going with this

More reading: Bullets Forever