Mar 12, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) and Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) both celebrate against Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NBA Playoffs: Previewing the Brooklyn Nets

Record: 39-33

Head Coach: Jason Kidd

Regular Season Team MVP: Deron Williams

First Round Opponent: Chicago Bulls

Regular Season Series vs. Chicago: Bulls lead 2-1. On Christmas Day, the Bulls defeated the Nets 95-78. On February 13th, the Bulls defeated the Nets again 92-76. And lastly, on March 3rd, the Nets finally got a win against the Bulls with a score of 96-80. Whenever the two play, it seems to be a lop-sided game and not a nail-biter.

The Brooklyn Nets have been the turn-around team of the season. Through the first 31 games, they were 10-21 and looked to be a bust and a lottery team. They had gone on a five game losing streak and a four game losing streak, including only winning three games in a row once. Then all of a sudden, they started playing some good basketball despite losing one of their key players in Brook Lopez. After losing to San Antonio, which put them at 10-21, they won ten out of their next eleven games. After that, they also had two winning streaks of four. Their play in the second half of the season has been stellar and they look to make a buzz in the playoffs.

Since the calendar year flipped, they have played 23 games against potential playoff teams. The good news for Brooklyn is that they have done particularly well against these teams. Over those 23 games, they have won 15 games and lost 8 games. That is a good upside to a Brooklyn team that didn’t do very well in the beginning of the season. When it matters most, they have been winning and playing well, which is what it takes to make it through the playoffs. That being said, they are becoming more and more of a playoff threat as the season begins to come to an end. They have ten games left in the season and only two of those games are against potential playoff teams in Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. They should continue their winning ways and work to get a better seed in the playoffs.

Strengths: They are tied for 7th in three-point percentage at .372. They are tied for 9th in opponent’s points per game, at 99.2. They are also tied for 9th in opponent’s field goal percentage, at .454. Brooklyn is tied for 5th in steals per game at 8.6. Players that need to continue their strong play are Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Since both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have a lot of experience in the playoffs, especially as teammates, they need to be the ones to step up and prove that.

Let’s not forget about one more strength they have. Their play in front of their home fans at Barclays Center has been dominant. With their recent win against the Houston Rockets, they have now won 14 straight wins at home. Their last loss at home was against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 31, when they loss 120-95. During this long, impressive stretch, it’s also worth noticing that they have only had two games where they scored less than 100 points. The first one was against the Chicago Bulls on March 3rd, where they won 96-80. There second one was against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 9th, where they won 93-81. There play at home will make a huge difference in the playoffs, where home wins are crucial.

Weaknesses: Despite the team’s success, they have a lot of weaknesses that opponents can key in on. They don’t score a lot (ranked 20th with 98.7 points per game), they allow their opponents to shoot well from long range (ranked 22nd at .368), they are terrible at rebounding (ranked 29th with 38.4 rebounds per game, including 28th in defensive rebounds and 28th in offensive rebounds), they allow opponents too many offensive rebounds (ranked 22nd allowing 11.4), they don’t assist well (ranked 23rd with 20.8) and they don’t block shots well (ranked 27th with 3.9 per game). In addition, they don’t have any consistent top scorers. Their top scorer is Joe Johnson at 15.5 points per game.

One thing you have to remember about the Nets is that they are missing their best scorer and rebounder. Brook Lopez was injured early on in the season and was announced he won’t return for the rest of the season. Not having their best big man really hurts the team. The play down low usually defines the winner, as rebounds and points in the paint are big keys to winning. However, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee have been stepping up in place of Lopez. Their play will be key in how the Nets fair in the playoffs and if they can’t play at a high level, then the Nets will have troubles come playoff time.

Playoff Ceiling: At the beginning of the season, the Brooklyn Nets looked to be a team that could compete for the NBA Championship with their new additions in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. As the season began, they became a bust and looked like a team that would be competing for the top pick in the draft. As the season draws to an end, they are finally living up to all the hype they stirred before the season began. With that being said, if they can keep up this level of play, they have the chance to make it far in the playoffs. Obviously anything can happen, but this team is very capable of making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

What Will Happen: With the way they are playing at home, it’s going to be hard to bet against them at their home games. With that being said, they will probably win their home games, meaning if they want to move on to the next round they will need to play well on the road. Again, they are a good team that can win no matter where they play. I say the series goes to seven games and they win 4-3. They move on to the second round.

 

Editor’s note: This was a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and you can follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page. For more NBA basketball news visit FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com, a fantasy basketball blog.

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