With the playoffs fast approaching, tonight’s third matchup of the year between the Nets and Bobcats carries important implications for both sides.
19th-year super-vet Kevin Garnett has missed the last nine Nets contests with back spasms and will be in street clothes again when the 33-35 Charlotte Bobcats come to Brooklyn this evening.
However, during this Big Ticket-less span, the rest of coach Jason Kidd’s guys have stepped up, going 7-2 over this period. And with a victory tonight, the 34-31 Nets will have won 10 in a row at Barclays Center.
Brooklyn currently sits in the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference, only 2 games behind the Bulls. The once and future Hornets franchise, in the 7th slot, trails the Nets by 2.5 games and has a 5.5 game lead over the 9th place Knickerbockers with only 14 games left to play.
The first game between these two squads took place in Charlotte on November 20th, and the home team prevailed 95-91. Charlotte was led by G Kemba Walker with 31 points and 4 for 7 from downtown. Back-up center Andray Blatche came off the bench for 25 points and 7 boards.
In the second 48 on February 12th in Brooklyn, the Nets hammered the Bobcats 105-89 behind a blistering third quarter in which they outscored Charlotte 35-19. On that wintry evening, Paul Pierce put up 25 points, going 9 for 11 and a perfect 5-5 from the arc in only 22 minutes of court-time.
Brooklyn last played on St. Patrick’s, besting the visiting Suns 108-95. All five of the Nets starters scored in double figures with PG Deron Williams leading the charge with 28 points on 11-13 shooting. Charlotte had won four in a row before dropping a home game to Atlanta 97-83 on Monday.
To serve the Bobcats another loss, Brooklyn will have to contain Charlotte big man Al Jefferson, who leads their team in scoring and rebounding at 21.3 and 10.4 respectively. With no KG and Brook Lopez for the season, look for the Bobcats to stress Jefferson’s wily inside power game tonight.
Ryan Ruocco and I will be back in the booth for another big game at Barclays Center. Tune in to YES Network at 7:30PM ET to see if the Nets will continue their winning ways in Brooklyn.