Nets-Wizards Preview: Nets Hope for Win in Return Home


The Nets will return home Friday night after a mostly successful road trip when they host the Washington Wizards at The Rock. On the road trip, the Nets went 2-2, but were very competitive in all 4 games, something we have not seen from them all season. The Wizards are worse than any of the teams the Nets played on the road trip, so, on paper, this should be a victory.

The Wizards have very little going for them now. This will be their third game of a back-to-back-to-back, which means that they are very tired. Also, since they beat the Nets in Newark on March 21st, they have lost 9 of their last 10 games including a terrible pair of losses to Detroit and a loss to the Raptors. They have absolutely no momentum right now and they are pretty locked in to a top 3 pick in this year’s draft.

Injuries will be a major theme in this game. For the Nets, it will be about them recovering from injuries, while it will be the opposite for Washington. Shelden Williams, who got poked in the eye last Wednesday by Tyler Hansbrough, is likely to return tonight. He will be wearing a mask to protect his eye. I am very excited to see him in this mask. Another player coming back for the Nets is Deron Williams, who missed the Portland game on Wednesday with a stomach illness. With these two Williams’s in the lineup, the Nets will be back up to a healthy total of 3 Williams’s. This is good news. The bad news for the Nets is that they announced yesterday that Jordan Farmar is officially done for the year. He has had groin problems since the all-star break and he is shutting it down. He definitely had his moments this year, and I will miss him. This also means that unfortunately Sundiata Gaines may get way too many minutes. Hopefully Gerald Wallace will become the backup point guard. Also, we should be getting an injury update from Billy King about Brook Lopez a few minutes before the game. Stick with FRWD for the latest on Brook. My prediction is that Billy will shut him down for the year, but that is just a guess, I have no idea how he is doing.

For Washington, injuries will be a major factor. Nene, who really burned the Nets in the teams’ last meeting, will be out tonight. This is great news, because the Nets have nobody that can guard him. Trevor Booker will also be out, along with Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche, who have missed most of the season. Hopefully the Nets will be able to take advantage of these injuries.

Key matchups:

Deron Williams vs. John Wall. Advantage: Williams

As I said earlier, Deron will be returning from a stomach illness in this game. Wall has had a very disappointing season and he has become very frustrated. He hates the Wizards almost as much as Deron hates the Prudential Center. There will be a lot of frustration in this matchup tonight, and I don’t think either player will have an especially good game. They will both shoot at or under 40%.

Marshon Brooks vs. Jordan Crawford. Advantage: Crawford

The last time these two teams met, Crawford had a very good game, and he is able to score 20 at will. However, like Marshon, he does not play defense. If there was ever a time for Marshon to get out of his slump it would be tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to score 10 points in this game, but Crawford should still have a better game, and the Wizards need him to.

Gerald Wallace vs. Chris Singleton. Advantage: Wallace

Chris Singleton is a random rookie playing against a very good veteran in Gerald Wallace. Obviously, Wallace will have a big advantage in this matchup. I am expecting him to have a better offensive game than he has had recently, and hopefully we will see him run some more point guard tonight. Defensively, Singleton should not be able to beat him, so he should help out with Wall and Crawford as much as he can.

Kris Humphries vs. Jan Vesely. Advantage: Humphries, by a mile

I am so excited for this matchup. The Hump is going to have a HUGE game. The Wizards front line is arguably weaker than the Nets’ without Nene. The Nets might actually have more points in the paint than the Wizards do in this game, which would really be shocking because they are last in the NBA in the category. Jan Vesely is your typical, soft, European rookie who was picked much higher than he deserved. He is averaging 4 points and under 4 rebounds a game, and Humphries should devour him on the glass. I also expect The Hump to score almost at will in this game, which he is rarely able to do because he is undersized.

Shelden Williams vs. Kevin Seraphin. Advantage: Shelden

I never though I would say this, but thank god that Shelden is back in the lineup. I have had more than my share of Johan Petro and would prefer not to see him for the rest of the season. Hopefully Shelden will be able to see out of his right eye tonight, but even if he can’t, I don’t think vision is a big part of his game. He’s just a big body that makes relatively good decisions, especially compared to Petro. The last time the Wizards visited The Rock, Seraphin somehow scored 12 points, and all of them were in 4th quarter garbage time. I don’t expect him to score too much against Shelden tonight.

My bold prediction for this game is, as I said earlier, than the Nets will finally outscore a team in points in the paint tonight. I don’t remember when the last time this happened was, but it definitely wasn’t recently. The Wizards bigs are just so bad that they will make the Nets’ bigs look like capable offensive players, which they are not. I don’t often say this, but I will actually be surprised if the Nets don’t win this game. The Wizards have played so poorly lately, and the Nets have been trying a lot harder. Also, the Nets definitely want payback after getting blown out by the Wizards at home a few weeks ago. The Nets will win this game, 104-91.