Will the Brooklyn Nets have anything left in the tank? We’ll find out Saturday night. After Joe Johnson hit a buzzer-beater in overtime Friday to give them a wild victory over the Phoenix Suns, the Nets are in Los Angeles to face the Clippers. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
PP/KG FACE DOC: Paul Pierce (nine seasons) and Kevin Garnett (six seasons) each played for coach Doc Rivers. The trio even won a championship in 2007-08, their first season together with the Boston Celtics. At one point, it looked as though all three would be headed to the Clippers. But the Celtics turned down a blockbuster trade proposal from L.A. Rivers, of course, did end up with the Clippers, but Pierce and Garnett ended up in Brooklyn. Should be an emotional reunion, though both sides are ultimately going to want to beat each other.
D-WILL HE PLAY? Deron Williams sprained his left ankle in the first quarter of Friday night’s 100-98 win, and did not return. It would be surprising if Williams played Saturday night. Coach Jason Kidd said he’d see how his point guard feels before making a determination. The Nets (3-5, 1-4 road) didn’t miss Williams, though, as backup Shaun Livingston scored 18 points and dished out six assists in 37 minutes. If Williams can’t go, Livingston would be the obvious choice to replace him in the starting lineup.
Brook Lopez and Garnett got tangled up late in the fourth quarter, which resulted in Lopez appearing to tweak his left ankle. Lopez remained in the game. He scored 25 of his 27 points after the first half. The Nets accidentally sent out a fan email stating both Lopez and Williams would be out, but the team said nothing is official with regard to their statuses.
OTHER TIDBITS: It appears Mason Plumlee has replaced Reggie Evans in the forward rotation. Plumlee went a perfect 3-for-3 from the field in 13 minutes Friday night. The rookie out of Duke has logged 47 minutes over the past three games. The Nets held Eric Bledsoe, whom the Celtics wanted from the Clippers in the failed blockbuster, to just 15 points and four assists. Markieff Morris, one of the most efficient players in the NBA, went 1-for-9. The Nets were outscored on the fast break, 25-7. But they won the points-in-the-paint battle, 50-38.
LOB CITY: The Clippers (6-3) are second in offensive efficiency and first in points per game (110). But they are also next-to-last in defensive efficiency and points allowed (106). Chris Paul (20.4 points, 12.8 assists per game) is once again playing like an MVP candidate. High flyer Blake Griffin is averaging 22.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and shooting 57.1 percent from the field. Guard J.J. Redick has been a terrific floor-spacer, while DeAndre Jordan continues to improve and evolve at center. The Clippers are seventh in pace, so they’re going to look to run the Nets out of Staples Center. And Brooklyn, with its slow and plodding style, can’t afford to let that happen.