Gameday Dish

Miami Heat v New York KnicksAfter 35 games the 14-21 Brooklyn Nets are currently slotted in the 8th spot in the tortuous Eastern Conference.

While this record may not seem playoff-worthy, it looks a lot better after a season-high, four-game winning streak, which coach Jason Kidd’s guys hope to extend tonight at home against the 27-9 Miami Heat.

LeBron and company played the other New York City league affiliate last night in Manhattan. Surprisingly they came out on the losing side to the 13-22 Knicks by a score of 102-92.

The Heat were without PG Mario Chalmers, who missed the last two games with a right Achilles strain. League MVP James led his team with 32 points, and Wade chipped in 23.

Both sides shot around 54% from the field. However, NY pounded the Heat on the offensive glass, which led to 14 more field goal attempts. Miami’s 52.4% shooting from the charity stripe was also a factor, and Flash was chippy after the 48 when asked about his 0-6 free throw struggles.

Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesBrooklyn kicked off their recent win streak with their best coup of the season on January 2nd at OKC.

The Nets have since dispatched Cleveland, Atlanta and Golden State at Barclays. In fact, in their impressive take-down of the Warriors on Wednesday night, the Nets ended the Dubs’ 10-game winning streak.

Playing without C Brook Lopez and PG Deron Williams, Brooklyn’s 102-98 victory was helped by having five players in double figures, led by Joe Johnson’s 27. In addition, C Andray Blatche contributed 17 points off the bench.

Tonight’s game will be the second of four meetings between these squads this season. The first, also in the borough, was on November 1st. That night the Nets prevailed 101-100 with both Lopez and Williams in the lineup. Coach Kidd relied on 11 players’ contributions in the true team win.

Tune in to tonight’s “nickname game” on YES at 8PM ET to see if Brooklyn can continue their winning ways against the scary, 2X defending NBA Champs.

Gameday Dish: Nets vs. Wizards

The 17-15 Brooklyn Nets come to the nation’s capital tonight to take on the Washington Wizards. The Nets have gone 3-1 since P.J. Carlesimo was elevated to interim head coach last week.

After getting shellacked in San Antonio 104-73 on New Year’s Eve, the Brooklyn boys turned it around 48 hours later in Oklahoma City. The Nets ended the Thunder’s 12-game home winning streak 110-93 and earned their most impressive W of the season.

First-year Net Joe Johnson went 5 of 10 from 3-point land and scored a season-high 33 points. PG Deron Williams added 19 points, 13 dimes and 5 steals in the victory after having his least productive game of the season (8 points and 1 assist) in the loss to the Spurs.

The Wizards have the worst record in the NBA at 4-26. They’ve dropped 11 of their last 12 contests including an 89-81 loss at Indiana on Wednesday.

Starters Martell Webster and Garrett Temple combined for zero points. Jordan Crawford, a third-year SG from Xavier, led Washington with 20 points, 7 dimes and 2 steals off the bench.

- Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty ImagesUnfortunately the Wizards’ woes will continue after tonight’s 48 as they’ll have to face Miami and OKC without point guard John Wall, who will likely be out of commission for another 1-2 weeks.

This evening’s competition will be the first of four matchups between these two Eastern Conference foes, who had much more in common last season when they finished the regular season just two games apart.

In addition, tonight’s game will mark Andray Blatche’s first return to Washington since joining the Nets. The 26-year-old veteran spent his first seven seasons with the Wiz before he was waived via the amnesty clause this summer.

6’11” Blatche, who shot a career-worst 38% from the field last season and missed more than half of the games, was at times booed mercilessly by the frustrated Wizards fanbase. This year Blatche appears renewed by by the opportunity to compete on a winning squad and is shooting 49% while averaging 10.9 ppg and 5.8 rpg

Tune in to YES tonight at 7:00 PM ET to see if Brooklyn can build on their recent success and get some momentum going in the new year.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Andray Blatche

Copyright 2012 NBAE - Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Brooklyn Nets have dropped four games in a row. Starting center Brook Lopez missed Brooklyn’s last five contests with a right foot injury that isn’t healing as quickly as expected. Into this 5-spot void coach Avery Johnson has inserted 6’11” Andray Blatche.

26-year-old Blatche spent the first seven seasons of his eight-year NBA career with the underperforming Washington Wizards. Blatche had some success, but was criticized for having a poor work ethic. He also got into some off-court trouble, which diminished his popularity with DC fans who often greeted Blatche with boos and taunts.

This past summer, the Wiz waived Blatche with the Amnesty Clause, and he hooked on with the Nets under a one year, non-guaranteed deal. The slimmed-down Blatche appeared motivated to make the most of his opportunity to start with a clean slate in Brooklyn. Coach Johnson quickly named Blatche his backup center and publicly stated that he has confidence in Blatche at the 5 and at the 4.

In the Nets’ 15 games in November, Blatche averaged 9.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg and .5 spg in 17.9 mpg, shooting .448 from the field. So far in December he’s putting up 18 ppg, 10 rpg and 2.5 spg in 29 mpg, shooting .553 from the field. On December 7th, Blatche scored 22 points with 15 boards and 4 steals in 35 minutes of court time in a home loss to the Warriors.

Lopez missed all but 5 of the 66 games last season with a broken right foot, so the Nets will definitely play it safe while he recovers from his most recent injury. Renewed by the transition to a franchise on the rise and loaded with talent, look for Blatche’s comfort level, minutes and production to increase while he fills in for Lopez.