Los Angeles Clippers
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BROOKLYN NETS: I Need More Mason Plumlee!
Tonight, Kevin Garnett will be conflicted between Jason Kidd's plan to manage KG's minutes during back-to-back games, and wanting to play with former coach Doc Rivers pacing the other sideline.
The plan discussed prior to the start of the season was to curtail Kevin Garnett's playing time in the second game of back to back nights.
The last time the Nets played on consecutive dates, they went into overtime on the front end, and lost to Washington. Garnett played 24 minutes, scored four, and pulled down six rebounds. On the back end loss to Indiana, Jason Kidd increased Garnett's minutes to 27, who scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds. That was followed by three full days off on the schedule.
Last night against the Suns, Kevin put in 28 minutes to include overtime, scored four points, and pulled down a game high 14 rebounds. After tonight's game against the L.A. Clippers, the Nets will travel back to Flatbush Avenue to face the Trail Blazers on Monday. That's a quick turn-around. So the question which begs to be asked is, how many minutes will Garnett play tonight, A) - against a serious contender, B) - against his (Pierce and Terry) former coach from Boston, and C) - considering the Nets are without Deron Williams?
Against the Clippers, you'd think it would be - all hands on deck. On that note, Mason Plumlee is proving early on, he's bright, and can be trusted with handling increased minutes. Tonight, he'll get thrown into the melee again, similar to the Pacers game, when he played 19 minutes. He has demonstrated increased comfort on the floor since then. The Nets could stand to benefit from is youth and athleticism this evening. If Jason Kidd limits Garnett to 17 minutes or so, I'll like to see Plumlee given an extended opportunity at establishing himself inside, and running the floor with Livingston.
Otherwise, Andray Blatche played 18 minutes against the Suns, scored seven and pulled down seven rebounds. He'll clearly need to play a role in trying to minimize both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the paint. Reggie Evans might even see an increase over his four minutes against Phoenix.
With no disrespect towards Joe Johnson, the big deal is of course, Brook Lopez. As he was last night, Lopez must once again be the focal point of the offense tonight. With Deron Williams down, Lopez needs to lead his team like its second best player should. He needs to take Paul Pierce's and Garnett's lead, and carry his team - not the other way around. Shaun Livingston will get him the ball, but the big guy must finish strong. I know - old argument. But since I mentioned Joe Johnson, an improved shooting percentage could take the Nets a long way.
In place of Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston faces a supreme test this evening. The Nets well-travelled back-up to Deron Williams now finds himself in a primary role. The L.A. Clippers lead the NBA in points scored per game, and are facilitated by Livingston's opponent this evening, guard Chris Paul, who leads the NBA with 12.8 assists per game. Both are 28-years old. So far this season, Livingston's Per-36 Minutes averages read: 14.3 points on 59% shooting, and 5.3 assists per. Chris Paul is averaging 20.2 points per 36-minutes.
Blake Griffin leads the Clippers with 22.1 points per game. On the muscle end of things, DeAndre Jordan leads the Clippers with 12.9 rebounds, and nearly two blocks per game. This team won 56 games last season, and is looking for new Head Coach Doc Rivers to guide them through the final mile this season.
The Nets are led by Brook Lopez, with 20.5 points, and 2.8 blocked shots per game. Kevin Garnett leads with 7.8 rebounds, and before he sprained his good ankle last night, Deron Williams averaged 6.5 assists.
This is surely another early season barometer game for the 3-5 Nets, who additionally now face the adversity of being without Deron Williams. A victory tonight would certainly ensure a heroes welcome in Barclays Center Monday evening.