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Nets return to Brooklyn to face Bucks

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It happens every time. Whenever the Brooklyn Nets get a chance to go on a moderate to extended winning streak, they fall flat on their faces. The latest example of this came on Wednesday night in Cleveland. After an early lead, the Nets proceeded to get smoked out by the Cavs and lost by 25 points. They're still within reach, but it's awfully hard to leapfrog three teams when you can't go on long winning streaks. This is the first night of a back-to-back. They head to Indiana to face the Pacers tomorrow evening.

Coming into Barclays on this snowy Friday night will be the Milwaukee Bucks. After winning 15 games last season, there weren't many people predicting the Bucks to make the playoffs. They've managed to exceed expectations and are almost a guarantee to reach it at this point. That being said, they have been slumping lately. They've lost 11 of their 15 games this half, including four straight. They lost on Wednesday to San Antonio and are now at .500.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on the television and WFAN 101.9 FM on the radio. Tip off is set for after 7:30.

Injuries

The Nets are (relatively) injury free unless you count the two players out for the season.

Jared Dudley and O.J. Mayo are both questionable.

The game

What's the story? Let's check it out

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Milwaukee

Record

27-39 34-34

Pace

94.75 96.31

Offensive Efficiency

100.6 100.4

Defensive Efficiency

104.7 99.2

Turnover Rate

15 17.2

Assist Rate

16.1 17.8

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.9 24.3

Rebounding Rate

48.8 49.2

Free Throw Rate

26.8 25.9

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.8 50

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.3 48.4

The Bucks won the first game in November and the second in February.

Milwaukee's looking different. They traded Brandon Knight to Phoenix and got back Michael Carter Williams, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis in return. They also waived ex-Net Kenyon Martin.

If there's one thing that will help Brooklyn, it's Milwaukee's penchant for turnovers. They're second in the league in turnovers, coughing it up 17 times per 100 possessions. For the Nets, if they can get them to turn the ball over, they can get easy buckets in transition. Brooklyn still plays at one of the slowest paces in the league and sometimes struggles to get good scoring opportunities, so pushing the tempo should lead to positive results.

The Nets get another chance to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek freak is continuing to develop and is much improved from his rookie season. He's not much of a three point shooter and has dramatically cut down on his attempts from deep. In exchange, he's gotten more shots near the rim and his field goal percentage is eight points higher. His height makes him a very unique player to cover as he can handle the ball as well as lead the Bucks' fastbreak. Joe Johnson should be matched up with Giannis. Johnson had a terrific game against Minnesota on Monday but didn't do much of anything during the blowout loss on Wednesday. He's been hampered by injuries for months so any chance to grab some extra rest is a positive (of course, you'd rather get the rest and win, but these are the Nets we're talking about here).

Player to watch: Michael Carter Williams

MCW came over from the Sixers at the deadline, and his struggles from Philadelphia have carried over to his new club. The former rookie of the year is shooting 40.6 percent since the trade. His jumpshot is still developing so teams can afford to play off of him and force him into taking jumpers. Even with that, he's a young player that's a triple double threat every evening and on a young team that's going places and playing for one of the best point guards in league history, he'll have a great chance at developing into a good player.

Deron Williams will be matched up with MCW. We've been saying for years now that D-Will is the key to Brooklyn's success. When he's engaged in the offense and getting to the rim, the Nets offense can be great. However, that hasn't happened as frequently as expected and Williams hasn't been able to play consistently well this year. That being said, he should attack MCW early and often. Players are shooting 52.5 percent from the field against Carter-Williams this half and backing him up are Ennis and Jerryd Bayless. This ought to be a big night for Deron.

From the Vault

It's March Madness time so let's take a trip back to 2005 and watch Deron Williams and the Fighting Illini try to pull off a comeback for the ages against the Arizona Wildcats.

More reading: Brew Hoop