2012-13 NBA Game Of The Week: Week 16 – Rockets V Nets
All Star Weekend has been and gone for another year, now it’s time to turn our focus back to the real stuff. This week I’ll take a look at the match up between Houston and Brooklyn.
GAME TIME & VIEWING OPTIONS
Time & Date: Saturday, February 23, 2013 11:30am AEDT
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn.
FORM HEADING IN
Houston have had a solid season, without being fantastic. They have the All Star they’ve been searching for in James Harden, and with that expectations have risen.
They are playing well in bunches, consistency will be the key for them moving forward. In saying that, they bought in so many new pieces over the off season that the team chemistry will still take time to build.
Since sacking their coach Avery Johnson, Brooklyn have looked like a much better team. Deron WIlliams has improved over the last month, before going down with injury and missing the last two games. Williams should be right to go for this match.
Brooklyn’s defence is the key to their game, like many other teams. On nights when their defensive game is on, they look like title contenders, other nights they look like a look a lottery team.
MATCH UP OF THE NIGHT
The match up of the night would have to be between James Harden and Joe Johnson at the shooting guard position. These two can turn a match on it’s head on any given night.
James Harden’s trade from Oklahoma City was well documented, and I think it’s safe to say James Harden himself has benefited the most out of the high profile trade. Since crossing from OKC, Harden has proved that he can be the star that everyone hoped he would be. His averages are phenomenal with 26.2 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per outing.
The one area of his game that Houston fans would love to see improvement from is his turnovers, with 3.8 per game. That number is very high, but when you are handling the ball as much as Harden is, you can live with it.
Joe Johnson is still a great player. Many people forget about him when talking about the upper echelon of shooting guards, but don’t for one second underestimate what he does for his team.
Johnson is averaging only 1.7 turnovers per game, which shows he still has great handles. He is having a very consistent season thus far, scoring more than 10 points in every game since 11th of December last year.
Johnson plays huge minutes every night, averaging the most of any player on the Brooklyn roster, with almost 38 minutes per game. He is averaging very solid numbers of 17 points, 3.5 assists and 3 rebounds in those minutes.
This match up will be great to watch, with both being able to shoot from anywhere on the court. Johnson will be well rested and ready to go after having the All Star Weekend off. Look for Johnson to come out strong and make an immediate impact, putting Harden on the back foot from the get go. I think Harden will be too good though, winning this battle of the shooters.
Both teams rely heavily on their bench players to control the game while the starters are resting. Let’s take a look at who to watch for coming off the bench.
Andray Blatche is an interesting case. He was waived by the Washington Wizards at the end of last season, and looked as though his career might have been over. That was until Brooklyn threw him a life line in early September. The Nets gave him a one year non-guaranteed contract, and he has taken his opportunity with both hands. Blatche has been a good force on the defensive end, backing up Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans. He is averaging 10 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and an assist per game.
Carlos Delfino is one of the most under rated chances for the sixth man of the year award. He has quietly been going about his work and giving the Rockets much needed energy off the bench. Delfino is able to push the tempo when Harden is sitting on the bench, and continues to score and distribute the ball at a high standard. He is averaging 10.3 points, 3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
C.J Watson is a crucial player for Brooklyn as they look to make some noise in the playoffs. He is a handy back up guard who provides valuable minutes for the Nets. He has struggled to post consistent numbers all season, but in Brooklyn’s last match against Denver he poured in 25 points, 6 assists and grabbed 2 steals. It will be interesting to see the battle between Delfino and Watson.
Marcus Morris is proving to that he can be a reliable player for this Houston team. Houston have very young forwards, with Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson and Morris all 24 and under. This is a great sign for Rockets fans and shows how bright their future could be. Morris will be a big part of Houston’s future, but for now we can enjoy his continual growth. Morris is averaging 8.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and almost 1 assist per game.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UPS
- Point guard: Deron Williams
- Shooting guard: Joe Johnson
- Small forward: Gerald Wallace
- Power forward: Reggie Evans
- Center: Brook Lopez
- Point guard: Jeremy Lin
- Shooting guard: James Harden
- Small forward: Chandler Parsons
- Power forward: Patrick Patterson
- Center: Omer Asik
I can’t wait to see how this battle pans out. The match up between Jeremy Lin and Deron Williams will be interesting to watch. Both players have failed to live up to the hype this season, so it will be great to see who stands up in this match. Brooklyn is a much better team at home, they will be looking to get the crowd involved early by getting key players into the game.
My prediction: Houston: 107 – Brooklyn: 104
How do you see this match going down? Do you think James Harden or Joe Johnson will be the game changer?