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Nets try to get back on track vs Pacers

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody said this was going to be pleasant. The Nets went into Wednesday's game against the Boston Celtics on a four game losing streak (all of which came on the road). Being back in Brooklyn didn't help much as the Celtics pulled away in the third quarter and cruised to a 111-92 win. It was Brooklyn's fifth straight loss.

Waiting for the Nets this Black Friday will be the Indiana Pacers. Indy was expected to be a solid playoff team, but things haven’t gone as planned so far. They lost to the Hawks on Wednesday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 8 PM.


Jeremy Lin is still out, as is Caris LeVert. Rondae Hollis Jefferson had to leave Wednesday's game thanks to a sprained right ankle. X-rays were negative. He was initially listed as “questionable,” but now he’s out. Sean Kilpatrick will start in his place. Isaiah Whitehead had to leave the game due to a sprained left wrist. X-rays were negative. He’s good to go.

CJ Miles has missed the past week due to a knee injury and it's unlikely he plays tonight. Kevin Seraphin is dealing with a sore left knee and his availability for tonight is unknown.

The game

The Nets won the first meeting in late October.

If there’s been any bright spot for the Nets during this losing streak, it’s been Trevor Booker. Booker has been the team’s best rebounder, a capable post option, and someone who can initiate a fastbreak. He’s a bundle of energy and someone we can mark down for a good game every time out. The same can be said for Thad Young. Joining a new team that underwent a dramatic makeover in their style of play is difficult. Having to do it while your teammates have been hampered by injuries is even more tough. However, Thad has worked around all of that and has been a solid contributor for Indy. As the Pacers look to play like we expected, having someone like Thad will make things easier for everybody.

Oh yeah, today is Book’s birthday. He’s 29, the third oldest player on the Nets, behind Luis Scola and Randy Foye.

If Whitehead is limited, the Nets will have to lean on Yogi Ferrell more. The former Hoosier hasn’t had much of an opportunity to make an impression, but he ought to get a lot of playing time tonight. Ferrell’s defense isn’t one of his strong suits, and that bodes well for Jeff Teague, who needs a good game under his belt. Teague has also been a respectable three point shooter, but has shot a career worst 25.9 percent from downtown. Teague has always made a living driving to the basket and with a Nets defense that has been getting torn apart over the past two weeks, JT should be aggressive attacking the basket.

Even though he’s shooting a respectable 34.8 percent from deep, it might be best if he cut down on the three point attempts. Lopez is a much better post player and having him closer to the basket helps him draw more fouls and get to the line where he’s an excellent shooter. Myles Turner has had a terrific sophomore campaign and will look to anchor the interior for Nate McMillan’s team. Lopez outplayed him in Game one and Brooklyn should look to pound the ball inside as much as they can.

Player to watch: Paul George

When you’re the team’s best player and things aren’t going well, you have to answer for it. Over at Indy Cornrows, Evan Morris focuses on PG and says:

Paul George? Face it, he simply has yet to develop into the leader this team needs at the moment. PG is calm, smooth, unaffected by pressure, but quiet. None of those are bad, it’s just who he is. George’s teams here in Indiana have been led by other players such as David West and of course the players’ coach himself, Frank Vogel. Due to these people, George never had to be that leader.

He has to be that leader now.

One month in, and George hasn’t played as well as he is capable of. With some more options around him, George has had the ball in his hands a little bit less than last season so it’s not surprising to see that his per game numbers are down some. Something that is surprising is his free throw rate is at a career low even though he’s taking a few more shots inside of three feet. It’s still early and we know George has the potential to be one of the best players in the league, so I expect him to pick things up soon.

Assuming Rondae Hollis Jefferson is out or limited thanks to the ankle injury, the Nets will have a hard time figuring out who will be assigned to George. Joe Harris should see some more minutes and the Nets hope his three point shooting will open things up for the offense. Sean Kilpatrick is no longer playing point guard and is back to the player that impressed everyone last season. With RHJ hobbled a bit, the Nets are down another playmaker and capable ballhandler.

From the Vault

There’s been some drama surrounding last second shots over the past week. That’s something we’re very familiar with around these parts.

More reading: Indy Cornrows