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Nets & Blazers play a makeup game

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

If you're gonna lose, you might as well lose big right? The Brooklyn Nets made a trip down to Atlanta to face the conference leading Hawks on Saturday night and tried to extend their season long six game winning streak. The streak ended and the Nets ended up losing by 32 points. The loss was ugly, but Brooklyn is still seventh in the Conference. It won't get any easier from here.

Coming (back) into the Barclays Center will be the Portland Trailblazers. It's been another outstanding season for the Blazers and they have won their second straight Northwest Division title. Their last game was a 99-90 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. They're fifth in the Western Conference, trailing Houston, Memphis and the Clippers. They have an outside chance of reaching the second seed, but that's unlikely to happen.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV, WCBS 880 AM on the radio. Tip off is after 7 PM.

Hand in hand

On Saturday night, the Heat lost to the Pistons, the Hornets beat the Sixers and the Celtics beat the Raptors in overtime. Last night, the Pacers beat the Heat in Paul George's return to action following the injury he suffered in the summer. Here's an updated look at the playof

2014-2015

Record

Games behind

Tiebreaker situation

Games remaining

Milwaukee

38-38 own tiebreaker over Hornets,Heat,and Celtics, split series vs.Pacers, lead 2-1 vs. Nets (final meeting on 4/12) 6

Brooklyn

35-41

-

own tiebreaker vs. Charlotte and Indiana, lost season series to Celtics and Heat, down 2-1 to Milwaukee 6

Boston

35-42

-

Won season series vs. Nets, Hornets, and Pacers, down 1-0 to Bucks, lost season series vs. Heat 5

Indiana

34-43

1

split series with Bucks, lost season series to Nets and Celtics, own tiebreaker vs. Hornets and Heat 5

Miami

34-43

1

own tiebreaker over Nets and Celtics, down 2-1 to Hornets (final meeting on 4/7), lost series vs. Pacers and Bucks 5

Charlotte

33-43

1.5

lost season series to Nets, Pacersand Celtics, lead 2-1 vs. Heat, won season series vs. Bucks 6

Nothing happening around the rest of the league tonight.

Injuries

Alan Anderson is out with his ankle injury.

Dorell Wright will miss four to six weeks after fracturing his left hand. The playoffs start on April 18 so he'll miss the first round. Wesley Matthews won't be back until next season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in March. LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained left thumb), Nicolas Batum (lower back pain) and Chris Kaman (sprained right thumb) didn't make the trip.

The game

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

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Portland

Record

31-41 50-26

Pace

94.93 96.24

Offensive Efficiency

101.8 105.8

Defensive Efficiency

105.1 100.9

Turnover Rate

14.5 14

Assist Rate

16.3 16.9

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.7 24.4

Rebounding Rate

48.8 50.9

Free Throw Rate

26.7 23

Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.2 50.8

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.5 47.6

Portland won the first meeting in November.

This is a makeup from late January as that game was cancelled due to the terrible weather that socked the East Coast.

When you've already clinched the division, you can do whatever you want. With that in mind, the Blazers are giving Aldridge, Batum and Kaman the night off. They didn't make the cross country trip to Brooklyn. Although the Blazers assigned some malady to each, it's about resting for the playoffs. When Aldridge was asked why not, he responded, ""It's a long flight for one game, it's a long flight for one game and it's a long flight for one game."

If there's a positive to facing the Blazers now as compared to January, it's that the Nets are playing a lot better these days. They lose some valuable resting days, but when you're trying to hold on to your playoff spot, you've gotta roll with the punches.

In personnel news, the Nets signed Earl Clark to a two year contract last night. It's always nice to see guys who were in the D-League make and stay on the big clubs. Clark is not eligible for the playoffs.

With Aldridge and Kaman not here, it's job one, two, and three to get Brook Lopez the ball inside. Lopez has been the team's best player in the second half, and with Portland short on big men, should see a lot of touches. Twin brother Robin Lopez will guard Brook to start off, and once he goes to the bench, it'll be a motley crew of Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard at Center. If Brook can get Robin and the other Blazer big men in foul trouble early, PDX will be in big trouble.

Brook Lopez said of the matchup with his twin brother,: "I hate that guy and we'll probably, hopefully destroy him."

The point guard matchup between Damian Lillard and Deron Williams should be interesting. Lillard has been on the court every night since he was taken sixth overall in the 2012 Draft, and has continued his excellent play this year. Lillard is averaging around 21 points and six assists in 35 minutes a game. If the game is close late, he's someone that can be counted on to get a big basket. Williams has been playing well of late and that will need to continue as the Nets close the season. Jeff Teague and John Wall are next up and Derrick Rose *might* be back next Monday.

Player to watch: Arron Afflalo

Having AAA helps mitigate the loss of Wesley Matthews, but not completely. Over at Blazers Edge, Evans Clinchy discussed that loss and AAA's new role, writing:

A sixth man is a criminally underrated thing. It's another guy that can be a difference-maker in a big game. Come playoff time, matchups become more important and the advantages you once had can be neutralized. When you play the same team seven times in a row, opposing coaches figure out what's working for you and adjust. Aldridge might go off for 46 and 43 points in the first two games of a series (as he did against Houston last year), but eventually, good teams find ways to take away what works. Hence the Spurs' five-game whooping of the Blazers last May.

In "Sixth Man Afflalo," the Blazers had another weapon. It might not seem like much, but having six double-digit scoring threats in the rotation instead of five makes your team a lot more difficult to plan for. It's one more option for the Popoviches and Carlisles of the world to deal with. That addition might - I don't want to get carried away here, I'm just saying might - have been the one thing needed to turn the 2014-15 Blazers from a good team into a great one.

Since he came over, Afflalo is averaging 11 points a game on 42 percent shooting from three point range. He's a capable defender and that will come in incredibly handy in the playoffs. As of this writing, they'd be matched up with the Clippers in the first round. He can guard either Chris Paul or J.J. Redick and that versatility makes him someone to keep an eye on once the playoffs begin next weekend.

He'll be matched up with Joe Johnson. Afflalo has the size and strength to match Johnson should he post up. With the other scoring options out, Afflalo will have to be more active on offense. His high in field goal attempts as a Blazer was 15 on Friday night against the Lakers. He should see a lot more tonight.

From the Vault

The national championship is tonight and with that in mind, let's take a trip back to 1999 and see what Duke was able to do against the Connecticut Huskies in the title game.

More reading: Blazer's EdgeBucky's 5th Quarter and Duke Basketball Report