Gameday Dish

The 3-5 Brooklyn Nets head to the City of Angels to play the 6-3 LA Clippers tonight at Staples. Coach Jason Kidd and the Brooklyn Boys are coming off their first road win of the young season after Joe Johnson sank the winning basket at the buzzer for a 100-98 OT W in Phoenix. Also contributing to the victory were C Brook Lopez, who tied his season-high with 27 points, and 19th-year Kevin Garnett, who hauled in a season-high 14 boards.

Though the dramatic, come-from-behind win was an important get for the Nets, it was also costly. PG Deron Williams left the contest in the first quarter after spraining his left ankle. In his stead, veteran 1-guard Shaun Livingston came in to run the offense and scored a season-high 18 points in 37 minutes.

Late in the fourth quarter Lopez and Garnett collided with one another. Williams and Lopez along with small forward Paul Pierce (sore left groin) will all miss tonight’s 48, while Garnett will be a game time decision.

The Clippers last played on Wednesday night at home, besting the OKC Thunder 111-103. Blake Griffin had 22 points, 12 boards and 7 assists while his fellow co-captain Chris Paul went for 14 points and 16 dimes. Amazingly, Paul has reached double figures in both categories in all 9 of LA’s games so far.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles ClippersCoach Doc Rivers’ squad is averaging a league-best 110 points per game and has yet to lose at home. In fact, at Staples the Clips are averaging 120.8 ppg, which is also best in the NBA for a home court average. But on the other side of the court, the Clippers are allowing 106 ppt, which puts them at 29th in the league. This number is sure to improve considering Rivers’ emphasis on and history of coaching advanced team D.

Though it looks like the reunion will be postponed, Coach Rivers was prepared to get a potent dose of his own medicine from former pupils KG and LA native Pierce. This trio competed together for six seasons in Boston, winning the 2008 Championship and being minutes away from winning Game 7 in 2010. In other words, there’s lots of shared history for these three.

Brooklyn is off to a somewhat disappointing start after all their off-season acquisitions and the accompanying buzz. By picking up super-veterans KG, Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko this summer, many prognosticators proclaimed this Nets team ready to dethrone LeBron and the Heat. However, it’s still mid-November and this roster was formulated with May and June in mind. A Nets win tonight would be encouraging on many levels considering this is the second night of a road back-to-back and that the Clippers are on a hot streak and have yet to lose at home.

Tune in to the YES Network at 10:30 PM ET to see if Brooklyn can come away with another big W despite being shorthanded.

Gameday Dish

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn NetsThe Brooklyn Nets come to Cleveland tonight to take on the Cavaliers in Game 1 of both squads’ regular season slates. Last season Brooklyn finished 49-33 and lost a tough first round playoff series to Chicago in 7 games. The 2012-13 Cavaliers ended up at 24-58, suffering through several lengthy injuries to key guys.

The Nets made many significant additions in the offseason with the goal of winning a title in June. They traded picks and players to the Boston Celtics for championship-pedigree Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. They also signed former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko to come off of the bench.

Owner Mikhail Prokhorov hired 40-year-old Jason Kidd as the new head coach, seemingly minutes after his 19-year Hall of Fame playing career ended.

With a payroll north of 100 million dollars, the league’s highest, Brooklyn goes into this season with what many hoops heads think is the best first five in the NBA: returning Nets PG Deron Williams, SG Joe Johnson and C Brook Lopez tipping off with KG and Pierce. Every member of the starting five has been an All-Star, a distinction that none of the other 29 NBA teams share.

Charlotte Bobcats v. Cleveland CavaliersThere was plenty of excitement on the Cleveland side as well this offseason. Owner Dan Gilbert brought back Mike Brown as head coach after he was let go in 2010. They chose the 6’8” ultra-talented UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett with the #1 overall pick in draft. In addition, they signed veteran 7-footer Andrew Bynum, who when healthy is one of the top big men in the league. Bynum’s status is listed as “to be determined,” so he may not suit up for the Cavaliers for while.

The Cavs now have a slew of young players to develop and build around, with the leader on the court being PG Kyrie Irving. Irving, entering his third year, averaged 22.5 ppg, 5.9 apg and 1.5 spg last season. Joining Irving in the backcourt is second-year 2-guard Dion Waiters, who was selected #4 overall in 2012. In his rookie campaign Philly-native Waiters put up an impressive 14.7 ppg. Up front, third-year PF Tristan Thompson (#4 pick overall in 2011) averaged 11.7 ppg and 9.4 rpg playing in all 82 games. Throw in the relentless veteran C Anderson Varejao and second-year 7-footer Tyler Zeller and Cleveland has a solid core capable of making a legit run at a playoff spot in 2014.

Tune in to the YES Network at 7PM ET to watch the new-look Nets take on the rising Cavs in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World.

Gameday Dish: Knicks vs. Bulls

New York Knicks v Oklahoma City ThunderThe 51-26 New York Knicks come to the Second City tonight riding high. They’ve won 13 straight games, and Carmelo Anthony is playing the best basketball of his career heading into the playoffs.

Melo’s numbers in April are simply ridiculous. In five April contests so far Anthony is averaging 40.6 ppg and 8.2 rpg while shooting 61.1% from the field and 58.6% from three. He is the first Knick since Bernard King in the 1984-85 season to score at least 35 points in five straight games. In addition, he’s overtaken Kevin Durant as the NBA’s scoring leader, 28.6 ppg to 28.3 ppg.

On Tuesday night Anthony had 36 points, 8 boards and 6 dimes to lead New York to a 120-99 demolition of the Wizards at MSG. With the W, the Knicks clinched the Atlantic Division title for the first time since 1994.

The 42-35 Bulls, on the other hand, have been slumping of late with a great part of this swoon due to a litany of injuries. They are under .500 since the beginning of February and are just 3-3 in their last six contests.

In a humbling 101-98 home loss on Tuesday to the Toronto Raptors, coach Tom Thibodeau was without Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose.  On a positive note, 14th-year veteran SG Richard Hamilton returned on Tuesday after missing the last 19 games with a back issue, and 2nd -year SF Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 28 points in the defeat.

Tonight’s 48 represents the fourth and final regular season meeting between these  playoff-bound squads. The Bulls bested the Knicks in each of the earlier matchups, the last of which was on January 11th in Manhattan. In the 108-101 Bulls victory, Luol Deng led the way with 33 points, while Chicago shot 57% from the field. Anthony put up 39 points, 8 boards and 5 dimes while NY shot only 41% from the field that night.

Both All-Star C Tyson Chandler and PF Kenyon Martin will be out of action tonight for NY.

Tune in to TNT at 8PM ET tonight to see if the Knicks and Melo can continue their red-hot play.

Gameday Dish: Chicago vs. Brooklyn

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn NetsThe City of Broad Shoulders comes to the Borough of Big Attitudes tonight in a battle of two playoff-bound teams.

The host Nets at 43-31 currently occupy the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of 5th seed Atlanta and 2.5 ahead of 6th seed Chicago.

Both of these squads head into tonight’s 48 with significant players banged up. Starting Brooklyn off-guard Joe Johnson has missed the last five games with a combo of left heel / right quad issues, and starting SF Gerald Wallace missed last night’s game with a sore foot. Both players will be game time decisions.

PG Derrick Rose, C Joakim Noah, SG Richard Hamilton and G Marco Belinelli are already sidelined with various injuries, and coach Tom Thibodeau may have lost Taj Gibson for a while as well in Tuesday’s loss at Washington. Carlos Boozer led the Bulls in the 90-86 D.C. defeat, putting up 19 points, 12 boards and 5 assists.

Tonight’s game marks the return of the Nets to Brooklyn after an eight-game road trip in which they went 5-3, including a 113-95 shellacking of Cleveland last night that set a franchise record for road wins.

Chicago Bulls v Minnesota TimberwolvesSecond-year SG Marshon Brooks led coach P.J. Carlesimo’s guys with a career-high 27 points on 12 of 16 shooting to go along with 7 dimes and 4 boards. Deron Williams chipped in with 24 points and 8 assists.

This will be the fourth and final time these two teams play in the regular season. So far, the home team has come away victorious in the previous three games including the Bulls’ win in Chi-town on March 2nd.

In that game, Boozer and Noah combined for 41 points, 18 boards, 8 assists, 7 steals and 5 blocks to help lead the Bulls to a 96-85 final.

Chicago has just 9 games left in the regular season, and a W tonight would prove huge in their attempt to take over the 4th seed and secure home court in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Starting this evening Brooklyn has 5 home games and 3 away games left and with the 3rd seed Pacers a healthy 4.5 games in front of them, it’s all about defending their current position.

Tune in to TNT at 7PM ET to watch the Bulls and Nets contend for postseason positioning.

Gameday Dish: Nets vs. Jazz

Brooklyn Nets v Dallas MavericksThe 37-36 Utah Jazz have recently surged into the 8th spot in the Western Conference. Tonight they welcome the Brooklyn Nets and PG Deron Williams to The Beehive State.

Williams will surely be greeted with plenty of boos from the boisterous Jazz crowd. The 3X All-Star, who was drafted by Utah with the 3rd overall pick in 2005, will make his second return to Salt Lake City after departing via a turbulent trade on February 23rd, 2011.

At 42-30 Brooklyn occupies the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. With ten games remaining, the Nets have secured a playoff spot for the first time in six seasons.

Tonight’s 48 will be game number 7 of Brooklyn’s grueling 8-game road trip. They are 4-2 after getting annihilated in Denver last night, 109-87.

With starting SG Joe Johnson still out with a quad issue, the Nets starters went a combined 16 of 47 from the field in the loss.

PF Reggie Evans had the best night of any of coach P.J. Carlesimo’s guys, going for 15 points and 16 boards.

Utah Jazz v Cleveland CavaliersThe Jazz played last night in Portland where they came away with just their 11th road victory of the season, 105-95. PG Mo Williams led the way with 28 points, 5 dimes and 5 boards in just 29 minutes. This was Utah’s first win away from home after dropping their previous 9 as visitors.

The Jazz and Nets last battled in Brooklyn on December 18th. The Nets raced out to a 13-point halftime lead, but finished the night on the losing end of a 92-90 count. Al Jefferson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, while Joe Johnson led the Nets with 21 points.

The Nets are 11-8 in the second half of back-to-back games this season, and Utah is a sturdy 26-9 at home.

Both teams need a W tonight. Utah is barely clinging to the last playoff spot in the West. And Brooklyn must keep winning in order to secure home court for the first round of the postseason. Currently, the Nets are 2 games ahead of Chicago and 2.5 ahead of Atlanta for the 4th seed in the East.

See who’s got the most gas, drive and determination left in their tank heading down the home stretch when Nets vs. Jazz tips off at 9PM ET on YES.