The Brooklyn Nets are finally starting to get healthy again and that couldn’t come soon enough. No team has been more disappointing through the first fifth or so of the 2013-14 NBA season than the Nets, who sit at only 7-14 despite the hullabaloo surrounding them coming into the year.
Now that point guard Deron Williams is back in the lineup, though, this Nets team is certainly going to be looking to turn things around. In his return, a win over the Boston Celtics, Williams put up 25 points, seven assists and three rebounds in 37 minutes while shooting an impressive 10-16 from the floor.
On Thursday night in Williams’ second game back, though, he and the Nets will face a much bigger test when they square off with the Los Angeles Clippers in Brooklyn. Williams matching up with Chris Paul will obviously be a big matchup to watch and will likely result in a battle of solid production. However, Williams’ biggest impact will be getting Brook Lopez involved.
For all of Brooklyn’s issues this season, Lopez has been the bright spot even while dealing with injuries himself. In his 14 appearances this year, the big man is averaging 20.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 30.7 minutes per game while shooting 57.5 percent from the field. He’s been an offensive force for a team that has been inconsistent and disappointing as a whole in that department this year.
Lopez’s impact will be greatly seen against L.A. as the Clippers’ frontcourt, though talented, hasn’t been great in defending the post this season. The Clips give up the seventh most points in the paint per game to their opponents at 43.9 per game. DeAndre Jordan, who will likely be matched with Lopez, is still a work-in-progress defensively and can be beaten in the post with solid moves, which the big man in the BK possesses.
Williams’ return and the Nets general health improving will hopefully turn things around. However, they can’t let that cause them to abandon the one thing that has been working for them all season in Lopez as the season goes on. Particularly on Thursday, but for the rest of the season as well, Lopez is going to be integral to any success of the Nets.