On Sunday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Portland Trailblazers at Barclays Center at 3:00pm. The Nets will be looking for its fifth home win in a row while the Trailblazers are looking for its second win in a row after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 103-95 on Friday night.
Here is your pregame primer.
Think Defense First
The Trailblazers primary offensive weapons are rookie point guard Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Lillard likes to push the tempo while Aldridge is a very effective halfcourt player. Lillard and Aldridge are also a good pick and roll combination, so the Nets will have to work in concert to slow the duo down. The keys will be to limit Lillard’s opportunities to get out in transition and have both Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries defend Aldridge and keep him off balance.
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The Three Point Arc
The Trailblazers are amongst the NBA leaders in three point shooting. As a team, it shoots 38.2 percent per game, which ranks its 12th in the league, but the Blazers make 8.8 three pointers per game, which is good for fourth in the league. The aforementioned Lillard makes 2.5 per game while Nicolas Batum (2.8) and Wesley Matthews (2.3) also love to convert the long ball.
Without effective three point shooting, it will be difficult for the Blazers to leave Barclays with a victory, so it’s imperative that the Nets defend the three point line. Entering play on Sunday, the Nets are allowing opponents to shoot 33.7 percent from behind the arc and that’s the fifth best in the league.
A Seven Game Road Trip
On Sunday at Barclays, the Trailblazers will be playing the first of a seven game road trip. Usually, NBA comes embarking on long road trips come out with a lot of energy in the first game, mainly because they want to get the trip off to a positive start. The Blazers will probably come out strong early and the Nets will need to match the energy if it wants to avoid an early deficit.
Is Joe Johnson Coming Around?
On the season, Joe Johnson is shooting just 38.7 percent from the field, however, he is coming off of his best shooting performance on Friday night, having gone 8-for-12 from the field en route to scoring 19 points in the victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Afterward, Johnson said he was shooting wide open shots and that his teammates found him. Whatever the reason, he’ll need to play more consistently and get his shooting percentage up so that he can help his team win.
Can Brook Lopez Continue To Dominate?
We’ve seen Brook Lopez grow up before our very eyes. He’s doing a better job of being an intimidator on the interior, having recorded three blocks in Friday night’s victory, but he’s also making better decisions in the post and forcing less shots. He’ll try to follow Friday night’s effort (26 points on 13-for-24 shooting) with another strong performance this afternoon. J.J. Hickson and Jared Jeffries will probably have the task of guarding Lopez, and though Hickson is very athletic and Jeffries is a smart defensive player, neither should pose much of a challenge for Lopez as neither has the size to deny him consistently over the course of the game.
Still, the game isn’t played on paper, so it will be up to Lopez to remain aggressive and use his size advantage over the Blazers smaller front line.