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Nets try to snap out of it vs Clippers

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Seven. The Brooklyn Nets were in front of the home crowd but couldn't send them home happy. The Sacramento Kings withstood a brief Brooklyn rally and cruised to a 122-105 win. After playing so hard and competitively in the first few weeks, the Nets have been ground to dust.

The opponent tonight will be the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clips have been one of the best teams in the league this year, but have struggled as of late. They got blown out in Indiana on Sunday and have lost their last two games. After this, they’ll head to Cleveland (national game on TNT) and New Orleans to wrap up their six game road trip.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Jeremy Lin is still dealing with that hamstring injury and will be out again. Rondae Hollis Jefferson is questionable with an ankle injury.

Blake Griffin has been battling some swelling in his left calf, but he should be good to go for tonight.

The game

The Clippers won the first meeting two weeks ago.

For LA, they have to at least make it to the Conference Finals for their season to be viewed as a success. Over at Clips Nation, Shapan Debnath took a look at the narrative surrounding them and wrote:

The Clippers have been infamous in years past for the wrong reasons. Even their substantial accomplishments have been swept under the rug due to the failures that followed, much like many will forget that the Thunder beat the Spurs after many predicted a San Antonio sweep after one game. The Warriors have a historical amount of talent, and there’s little doubt to me that now that they have that #1 seed, they are very unlikely to let it go. The Clippers, up until this dreadful Paul George-less blowout, seemed more composed than any previous team during the Chris Paul era.

So while I understand why premature frustration after these losses can be annoying to seasoned fans, this team is absolutely under the microscope. Rightfully so. These moments matter, because old habits are tough to break, just ask the Thunder how their inability to close games in the regular season haunted them in a franchise-altering Game 6. For a team trying to reach that elusive ceiling, every part of the process matters.

For them to get there, they’re going to need the non Big Three players to keep playing well. The bench mob has been sensational on both sides of the ball and someone that has played a role in that is Austin Rivers. Rivers has become the poster boy of NBA nepotism over the past two years, but that’s not really fair to him. Sure he isn’t an all world point guard, but he’s perfectly capable and a nice player to have on your bench. The numbers aren’t flashy so it may appear that he’s struggling, but he fills his role well and can step up when needed.

If you can’t get any stops, you won’t win. The Nets have allowed teams to score at least 110 points each night during their seven game losing streak and at least 120 five times during that stretch. Along with that, teams are shooting 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from three point range during the streak. The defense already had issues when RHJ was playing, and with him out, they’re only going to get even worse from here.

The Clippers are a bad matchup for the Nets, and Brooklyn’s penchant for turnovers makes it even more difficult. The Nets are fourth in turnover rate while the Clippers are fourth in opponent’s turnover rate and sixth in transition scoring. If the Nets are sloppy with the ball, the Clippers will run them out of the gym again.

Player to watch: DeAndre Jordan

Jordan is the anchor of the Clippers defense. He can switch out to guards on pick and rolls, control the glass, a good help defender, and is a fantastic rim protector. Players are only shooting 51.6 percent inside of six feet against DJ, which is a full eight percentage points below their usual averages in that zone. Jordan’s flexibility, size and physicality will come in handy when the Clippers play the Warriors (first meeting next Wednesday).

Brook Lopez didn’t play the first game because it was part of a back-to-back. He’ll be out there tonight and will need to put a great game together. Lopez had his troubles on offense, but did manage to make three three pointers. He’s shooting further away from the basket and look for that to continue here. By drawing DJ away from the rim, that should open things up for cutters to attack the basket.

From the Vault

Even though they lost, I think Rivers earned the respect of everyone who watched this game.

More reading: Clips Nation