Tonight, the New Jersey Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers in the last NBA game ever to be played in New Jersey. This game is very unimportant for both teams, but more so for the Nets. For the home team, this game is less about the result and more about the nostalgia of this being the last time they will ever be at home in the Garden State. After this game, the Nets will travel to Toronto on Thursday to play their last game of the season, and then on April 30th, the team will announce its new colors and logo for next season in Brooklyn. In this post, I will talk more about the game and matchups rather than the fact that this will be the last game in New Jersey. Expect a post saying goodbye to the New Jersey Nets coming in the next couple of days.
For Philadelphia, this is kind of an important game. Due to tiebreakers, the Sixers haven’t mathematically clinched a playoff spot yet. However, they will have to lose all of their remaining games and Milwaukee will have to win all of their remaining games for the Sixers to be out of the playoffs, and that is very unlikely. Philadelphia is only half a game behind New York for the 7-seed in the east. If I were Philadelphia, I would be happy with the 8-seed and not try to catch New York for the 7th seed. The reason for this is that Miami is most likely going to be the 2 and Chicago is going to be the 1. If I were Philadelphia, I would much rather play Chicago in the first round than Miami. The Heat killed them in the first round last season, and Chicago has been very shaky with the health of Derrick Rose this year. The Sixers would have a better chance at beating the Bulls than the Heat, even though I don’t think they would beat either. These situations put the Sixers in a tricky situation: they want to win to clinch a playoff spot, but they want to lose so that they play Chicago in the first round.
In their previous three matchups this year, the Nets have taken two of the games, with the road team winning each game in typical Nets fashion. The Nets are only 9-23 at home this season, while they are a respectable 13-19 on the road. Only the Bobcats have a worse home record in the NBA, while they are a middle-of-the-pack road team. The game that was in Newark was a Sixers blowout victory, while both meetings in Philadelphia were close Nets wins. I expect a close-ish game tonight. Expect the Nets to be in hanging-around-mode.
Moving on to injuries, the Sixers are as close to full health as possible right now. The Nets, on the other hand, are far from it. The usuals-Brook Lopez, Damion James, and Jordan Farmar are out. I see no reason for Deron Williams to play in this game either and he has likely played his last game as a New Jersey (maybe not Brooklyn) Net. Shelden Williams did not play in the last game vs. Milwaukee with a knee injury. He is still listed as questionable. As always, expect the Nets to be hurt by their injuries.
Expect live notes as well as a recap to be posted during and following this game. Stick with FRWD during the game for live updates.
Sundiata Gaines vs. Jrue Holiday. Advantage: Holiday
Holiday is an average NBA starting point guard. Sundiata is an average NBA third-string point guard. That’s all you need to know.
Marshon Brooks vs. Jodie Meeks. Advantage: Brooks
In Meeks’s last 8 games, he has scored in double-digits 0 times. In Marshon’s last 8 games, he has scored in double-digits 7 times. He is coming off of a 17-point effort in Milwaukee on Saturday night and seems to have emerged from his slump. The Nets better hope that Marshon is not the only offense on the team tonight.
Gerald Wallace vs. Andre Iguodala. Advantage: Push
This will actually be a mildly fun matchup to watch, especially compared to the other matchups here. Wallace seems to be the only Net still hustling after balls at this point in the season, which is very disturbing because he is one of the oldest players on the team. Iguodala is a solid NBA player. Expect him to score in double-digits and also facilitate the offense.
Kris Humphries vs. Elton Brand. Advantage: Humphries
The Hump should win this matchup. He has been the most consistent Net this year and he had Hump double-doubles all three previous games against Philadelphia this year. Elton Brand is pretty old and slow. He still might score 15.
Jordan Williams vs. Nikola Vucevic. Advantage: Nobody cares.
Jordan Williams has been exposed as a phony since Deron Williams went out. He was using Deron’s great passing to his advantage, but now that Sundiata is point guard, J-Will has been unable to create for himself. Vucevic has scored 8 points in his last 5 games. Expect both players to be pretty invisible tonight.
Also, watch out for long-time Nets Killer Lou Williams coming in off the bench. He can strike at any moment and kill the Nets.
I’m expecting this to be a very boring, unwatchable game. In fact, the only reason I am looking forward to it is to see what the Nets have in store in terms of celebrating their 35 year history in New Jersey. Many former Nets will be coming back to join in the celebration including Kerry Kittles, the ghost of Drazen Petrovic, and others. My bold prediction in this game is that Marshon Brooks will score 20 points. That is not a very interesting bold prediction, but it is very fitting because this will not be a very interesting game. The Sixers will win this game thanks to a fast start and the Nets will be trying to play catchup the whole game. It will be close at some moments in the fourth quarter, but Philadelphia will hold on to win, 104-97.