On Tap: The New Jersey Nets

 —  February 9, 2005

There are two things I don’t want to see tonight:

1) That MasterCard commercial that rips off Swingers. Have you seen this one, the one where there’s a guy on a cell phone making several pathetic calls to a woman he met that night in a bar. If you’ve seen the commercial and you’ve seen Swingers (and if you haven’t, what’s wrong with you) then you know this commercial is a direct rip-off of the movie — they didn’t even change the character names. Jon Favreau should be getting royalties. This Web site has broken down the dialogue so you can see just how blatant this is.

2) The New Jersey Nets being allowed to shoot 58% (eFG%) like they did against the Lakers 12 days ago. (For comparison, on the season the Nets average 46.1%.)

To make number two happen, the Lakers are going to have to defend Vince “you must love me because I’m an All Star” Carter, who torched the Lakers for 30 in the last meeting. He’s been doing that well and better lately — scoring 30 ore more in five of the team’s last six, and 40 or more in the last two games — and once again the Lakers don’t have Kobe to shut down anyone on the perimeter. A combination of Jones, Butler, Atkins will have to do the job on both Carter and Kidd.

Mihm also needs to help stop any penetration Carter does get, and somehow do that without getting in foul trouble (without him in the game the Lakers defense on penetration falls apart). Teams that block shots give the Nets inordinate amounts of trouble – they have won just 21% of their games against the top 10 blocking teams in the NBA.

The Nets scored 109 in the last meeting between these two, a shockingly high total considering the Nets have the 28th most efficient offense in the league (96.7 points per 100 possessions).

Not everything was bad about that last game for the Lakers — they grabbed 23 offensive rebounds and, in a rarity for them, took more shots than their opponents (eight more). The Nets overcame that with a combination of hot shooting and sad Laker defense. Don’t expect that kind of offensive rebounding performance again, the Nets were shorthanded in that game and for the season are fourth in the league in defensive rebounding (by percentage of chances gathered in).

The best place to attack the Nets is at the point guard position, where their opponents PER is 17 — much higher than anywhere else on the team. Last game Atkins had 22 (Butler led the Lakers with 31). Maybe Tierre Brown can carry over his hot hand from the last game.

It’s tough to be optimistic facing a team that has won six of seven after losing to the Atlanta Hawks. That said, maybe in one of the odd rotations Hamblen tries tonight he can find something that works and keeps this team afloat in the 8th seed spot.

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By the way, if you want to watch the game on television tonight and not know the score, don’t listen to the radio on the way home. Channel 9 is delaying the start of the broadcast 30 minutes, until 5 p.m., in an attempt to boost sagging ratings for the early games this season. The radio broadcast, however, will be live.