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Nets close out first half of the season vs. Grizzlies

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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

You've made it this far. It's been an incredibly ugly first half of the season that has seen consistently terrible play, mixups late in close games, and the coach/general manager getting fired. The Nets are feeling a bit better these days. They've won two out of their last three games, including Monday night's contest against Denver that ended with a Joe Johnson game winner. The Nets will be looking to win their second straight game for the first time since early December. A win would send the players and fans into the break feeling a bit better about things.

Wrapping up the first half of the season with the Nets will be the Memphis Grizzlies. Considering some of the disastrous losses the team has suffered this year, it doesn't feel as if they're fifth in the Western Conference, but they are. Their last two games were at home and they both reached overtime. Unfortunately for Grizz fans, the team lost both games.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Nothing new for Brooklyn.

Marc Gasol had to leave Monday's game against Portland with a right mid foot injury and did not return. We found out Tuesday afternoon that the foot injury was a broken foot and he might miss the rest of the season.

The game

Let's check the numbers

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Memphis

Record

14-39 30-22

Pace

96.74 95.27

Offensive Efficiency

99.3 101.9

Defensive Efficiency

106.5 103

Turnover Rate

15.4 13.8

Assist Rate

16.8 16.7

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.9 22.9

Rebound Rate

49.6 48.8

Free Throw Rate

23.2 30.5

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.6 47.9

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

52.4 50.5

Memphis won the first game on Halloween night.

Memphis is looking a bit different from when the Nets saw them in October.

Mikhail Prokhorov is in town, and the Nets search for a new general manager is in full swing. The team has begun interviewing candidates and with the trade deadline fast approaching, maybe they'll have a new GM in place by then. We'll keep you updated.

Chris McCullough made his NBA debut on Monday night and looked pretty good in his 11 minutes on the court. He told the media after the game that he's on a 14 minute restriction to start off now, but as he gets back into the flow of playing basketball again, that should gradually increase throughout the second half. There doesn't promise to be much intrigue on the court in the second half for Brooklyn, so McCullough's development (along with Rondae Hollis Jefferson when he returns) will be the biggest things to watch.

The Nets and Knicks are both in need of a starting point guard this offseason, and hey Mike Conley's back in town! He was asked about his upcoming free agency when he played the Knicks over the weekend and chances are the same questions (or some variation of them) will be asked again tonight.

Memphis' turnaround began on January 13 when they returned to their original starting lineup. They've gone 9-3 in that time period and they've been excellent offensively. Memphis has averaged 109.4 points per 100 possessions in that time span, sixth highest in the NBA. One player that's been playing great has been Jeff Green. Green had been in the starting lineup for much of the season as Memphis looked to adjust to the changing nature of the NBA. It didn't work well and he was moved back to the sixth man role. Since the return to the bench, he's been averaging 17.6 points on 49.7 percent shooting from the field in 30 minutes a game. Joe Mullinax of Grizzly Bear Blues has more on Green:

Meanwhile, as a bench leader, Green has thrived. He has more room to work with and less pressure to start fast from the jump of the game coming off of the pine. He fits better off of Gasol and Randolph in this role as well it seems; Green has made an effort to play on different sides from Z-Bo, allowing for him to get his work without disrupting at or around the rim, where Jeff likes to drive. Once one of those two goes to the bench, and Jeff plays in that "small-ball" four roll, Jeff can dominate mismatches and be hidden a bit better defensively. It isn't perfect but it puts him in a position to have a better shot at success.

Green's been great, but this unfortunate moment happened at the end of the fourth quarter on Monday

Dang. The Nets bench has consistently struggled throughout the first half, so Green might be in line for another big game. When Green plays the four, Tony Brown might be inclined to match McCullough up with him.

2016 has been pretty great for Joe Johnson. Since the new year, he's shot 48.4 percent from the field, 93.3 percent from the free throw line, and most importantly, 47.3 percent from three point range. The Nets have desperately needed good shooting from their perimeter players all season, and if Johnson is able to keep it up in the second half, the Nets will have a better chance of winning and avoiding the doomsday scenario of Boston landing the number one pick in the Draft. In addition to the game winner, he also did this on Monday

We're big proponents of ankle breakers and dudes getting dunked on around here.

Player to watch: Zach Randolph

This is Randolph's seventh season in Memphis, which makes this the longest he's been with a single team (surpassing his six years in Portland). He's been excellent throughout his time with the Grizz and is a fan favorite in Memphis and other cities across the league. He's a bruiser that makes life hell for low post defenders and other players trying to get rebounds. He's averaging his fewest minutes per game since the lockout shortened 2011-2012 season, but it's worth noting he suffered a partial MCL tear that cost him two months of playing time. By preserving his minutes and his health, Z-Bo should be fresh for the playoffs.

As best as I can tell, Z-Bo has only played 153 of his 1361 minutes this season at center. With Gasol gone for the foreseeable future, chances are we'll see him at the five for a good amount of this game. For Brook Lopez, avoiding Gasol might be the best course of action. He's had trouble with Big Spain throughout his career and the matchup with Z-Bo might lead to some more success. Ryan Hollins will get most of the backup minutes, and Dave Joerger has managed to make the most out of his services.

From the Vault

All Star Weekend will be held in Toronto. The Raptors' greatest player (and a great former Net) is in the building tonight. To the dunk contest!

More reading: Grizzly Bear Blues