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GAME 24 at New Jersey, Preview & Game Thread

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NEW JERSEY NETS  10-14, 101.2 ORtg (#24), 107.3 DRtg (#16), 88.9 Pace (#23)
SACRAMENTO KINGS  9-14, 106.0 ORtg (#16), 109.7 DRtg (#22), 91.9 Pace (#10)

Welcome to a match-up of the decidedly mediocre.

On New Jersey
New Jersey's offense is woeful, seemingly shocking when you consider the offensive reputations and historical performance of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. But you know what? New Jersey's offense was only average last year! Yes, the Nets are underperforming a bit on offense this season... but it's not a huge travesty of talent. That frontcourt is terrible, so terrible they could desperately use Mikki Moore.

So what's the gameplan to keeping that offense looking poor? Force them to shoot. Only Carter and Bostjan Nachbar will shoot the three; Jefferson prefers to slash and step in to near midrange areas to do his scoring. You always let Kidd shoot, unless he's within finger roll range. I mean, it's no surprise this team lives and dies by Carter's output -- he's the only fellow can reliably create for himself and shoot from deep. Jefferson can assuredly be taken out of the game unless he's on fire (I suspect Ron Artest will get these duties) and Carter's affected not by the opposing defense but by his own will. In short, this team shouldn't give up more than 103 points or so in a 100-possession game.

On the other end -- only shooting guards have had substandard performances against them, so Beno Udrih and Brad Miller can have potentially big games. Kidd's defensive reputation exceeds his current ability, and the rotating center corps(e) aren't terribly imposing. NetsDaily reports Josh Boone and Sean Williams will start side-by-side tonight; this offers a bit of rebounding from Boone and a bit of weakside shotblocking from Williams... but little else, if my observations/scouting report memories are to be believed. I mean, Miller against raw, young athletes still learning the principles of team defense at the NBA level? Didn't we see this in Philadelphia with Samuel Dalembert and Jason Smith? Miller and Moore should pick this pair apart; Jason Collins and Jamaal Magloire are more traditional defenders, but our bigs aren't exactly traditional. I expect the Miller Gravy Train to ride on. It wouldn't be enough outright, but mixed with some success from Beno Udrih and a 20-point but efficient night from either John Salmons or Artest should do the trick, barring silly outbursts from Carter or Jefferson.

4:30 pm be the start time for this experience. Win #10, anyone?

Go Kings.