In preparation for tonight's matchup, Devin Kharpertian (@uuords) of The Brooklyn Game took some time to answer five questions for Hot Hot Hoops.
1. The Nets enter tonight's game winners of four straight. What's been the biggest difference over the last few games that have helped them find their groove?
Defense. They've done a much better job packing the paint and making their rotations, particularly on pick-and-rolls and off-ball screens. They also had their best 42 minutes defending the perimeter all season against Golden State Wednesday night, holding one of the league's best three-point shooting teams to just 3-19 from beyond the arc after a rough start. If they can keep running guys off the perimeter and Garnett can keep up his Celtics-esque defensive effort, they can keep this going.
2. How have the Nets been coping with the loss of Brook Lopez, and is it working?
I'll answer your second question first. Is it working? Yes and no. Lopez's injury is a crushing blow to this team, one that relegates them to second-class status in a league that rewards the first- and third-class teams. They've found a way to cope offensively without him (and Deron Williams) by running a little more and relying more on their three-point shooters, but he was their safety valve in the post when possessions weren't working. Now that's Andray Blatche. It's a step down.
3. How would you rate Jason Kidd's first year as head coach?
Incomplete. He hasn't really coached this team yet, because he hasn't really had it yet. He's tried (and been forced to try) a different lineup in nearly half of the team's games, and the team he signed on to coach just isn't healthy. It's true that it sometimes looks like he's lost control, but he's made more adjustments than he gets credit for. Also, Spillgate is a top-5 NBA coaching moment. Can't be forgotten.
4. Over / under 12 minutes in to the game before the first near altercation occurs?
Under. Pierce/KG vs. LeBron always brings out the good times.
5. What's your prediction for the game?
I'll go with a Nets upset on their home court. The Nets are undefeated in 2014, undefeated when Jason Kidd doesn't wear a tie, and undefeated in Shaun Livingston's last four starts. Why not keep that streak alive?
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