Nets-Bulls Preview

Brooklyn Nets Status Check:
Record: 34-25
Division: 9-3
Conference: 25-11
Road Record: 14-12
Last 10 Games: 5-5
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 98-90 loss to Dallas
PPG: 95.2 (20th)
Opponents PPG: 94.9 (5th)
Offensive Rating: 106.7 (10th)
Defensive Rating: 106.4 (16th)
Pace: 88.1 (30th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .490 (16th)
Turnover Percentage: .141 (20th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .738 (13th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .302 (4th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .219 (8th)
Opp. eFG%: .505 (20th)
Opp. TO%: .131 (23rd)
Opp. FT/FGA: .169 (2nd)
Leading scorer: Brook Lopez (18.8)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Brooklyn Injury Report:
Tornike Shengelia: out (concussion-like symptoms)
Jerry Stackhouse: missed Friday’s game (personal)

The Bulls got back on the winning track against the lowly Sixers, but now take on four straight playoffs teams and then the Lakers, who are playing their best basketball of the season, to start the month of March.

Brooklyn is up first on the schedule, and they are half a game ahead of the Bulls in the Eastern Conference for the fifth place spot. Fifth place would match-up with the Hawks right now, while sixth place would take on the Pacers.

The first two games this season between the Nets and Bulls were both close. Chicago won the first matchup in December by one point, while the Nets took game two by a four-point margin. Both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer sat out that Chicago loss, while Kirk Hinrich didn’t play in either and Rip Hamilton sat out the Bulls’ win. Draw whatever conclusions from those facts that you want to.

In the game Noah did play, he only had a double-double—what a down night. Marco Belinelli led the Bulls in scoring with 19, while Noah tallied 12 points, ten rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. Chicago outscored Brooklyn in fast break points by a total of 19-4. The Bulls also shot 44.0 percent from the field while the Nets finished at 38.7 percent.

Noah’s defense was clearly missing in game two, and the Nets took advantage of Chicago’s small lineup inside. Brooklyn scored 56 points in the paint without Noah on the floor, after scoring 30 points in the paint in the first contest. The Nets finished at 52.0 percent from the field, led by Brook Lopez’s 20 points on 9-16 shooting.

In that second game, with Noah missing and the Bulls going small because Nazr Mohammed’s basketball skills have disappeared faster than a sandwich in his presence, the Nets shot 74 percent at the rim (17-23). In the first contest, with Noah patrolling the paint, Brooklyn finished at 40 percent at the rim (8-20).

Some scary numbers for the Bulls, even with Noah on the floor, were Brooklyn’s offensive rebounding numbers. In the game without Jo, the Nets recorded a 37.9 offensive rebound rate. Even with Noah, Brooklyn posted a 35.0 offensive rebound rate. The Bulls can’t allow the Nets to grab more than 35 percent of the available offensive rebounds and expect to win this one, especially when they recorded rates of 20.6 and 27.5 (27.5 came without Noah). Brooklyn is fourth in the league in offensive rebounding percentage (30.2), while the Bulls are third (30.4).

It’s obvious that Joakim Noah has been the Bulls’ most important player this season while they try to stay afloat, waiting to see if Derrick Rose will return this season. The Noah show was on full display in his historic game with Philadelphia.

Chicago’s win against the Sixers wasn’t too impressive. After all, it was an eleven-point victory over a team that had lost six straight entering that night. But considering where the Bulls were, any victory was welcome. And while the win wasn’t head-turning by itself, Joakim Noah was. It was the first time in the history of ever (in the NBA) that a player recorded at least 20 points, 20 rebounds, ten blocks and shot better than 65-percent from the field in a game. That has a lot of qualifiers, but a triple-double is always impressive, and any time you can join the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon, it’s a good day at the office.

Brooklyn fell to Dallas last night, as Deron Williams turned it over seven times. Williams had 24 points and just two assists with those turnovers, but he wasn’t the only Nets having trouble keeping possession. Joe Johnson, who tallied eleven points and six assists, coughed it up four times to add to the 20 turnovers for the Nets. Brooklyn out-rebounded Dallas 44-31, but let the Mavericks shoot 50 percent from the field. Gerald Wallace scored seven points, while Lopez dropped 19 points and grabbed nine boards. The Nets are 7-7 this season on the second night of back-to-backs.

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