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Nets can’t afford a night off against Houston

Brooklyn Nets v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The last two times the Nets and Rockets have played, they’ve set new records in combined three-point attempts. In January, 2017 they combined to shoot 88 three-pointers, broken in their November, 2017 meeting in Houston, where the teams attempted 89 from beyond the arc.

The Nets lost both games, but it’s clear that there are plenty of worse match-ups across the NBA than tonight against Houston. They’re even the top two three-point shooting teams (in terms of attempts) in the NBA, with Houston jacking up 43.0 per game, and the Nets a distant second at 33.9 per game.

DeMarre Carroll says that, while it has looked as if the Nets have been adding a little more half-court offense into their sets recently, the team is still trying to push the pace, and that their main concern is not letting Houston jack up so many threes. Obviously, easier said than done.

“I think the biggest thing is we can’t let them shoot those threes,” Carroll said. “Threes kill you in the NBA. It’s a new era, twos don’t hurt you as much as threes do. We just can’t let them have wide open threes, make 20 threes. We’ve got to defend the three-point line.”

Although much of the league may coast to the NBA All-Star weekend, Caris LeVert says that the Nets can’t afford a night off, and have to come out firing against the Rockets.

“We’re not a team who can take these games off. We’re trying to get better every day, so this is the time you lock in even more,” said the NBA sophomore. “I like our chances against any team honestly. The way that they play, we definitely play kind of similar. We shoot a lot of threes; we play really fast. I think, for us, we just have to lock-in with who they have and play our game.”

And regarding James Harden, arguably the league’s MVP to this point, LeVert says that the Nets must do all they can to make life difficult. CL Smooth will undoubtedly be matched up with the ‘Beard’ at some point Tuesday night.

“First, (we have to) try to make his catches tough, try to not let him get any easy looks at the basket to get himself going,” he said. “No ticky-tack fouls and things like that, and just force him into tough, contested twos.”

It won’t be easy.