Here's your pregame primer...
Jrue Holiday versus Deron Williams
Jrue Holiday—the fourth year point guard for the 76ers—will be playing his second game after missing the team's previous four. Though the Sixers are just 3-7 in their past 10 games, Holiday is having a great individual season, averaging 18 points, 3.9 rebounds and 8.8 assists per contest.
Deron Williams, on the other hand, has taken a lot of heat over the course of the Nets recent losing streak. He'll need to come out strong and play with a purpose if the Nets are to walk away with the victory.
The Nets need to find a consistent identity on the basketball court. Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson seem to be more comfortable playing a slower paced game, while Williams prefers to push the ball and get quicker shots. The 76ers, on the other hand, prefer to play a faster paced game, so it will be interesting to see whether the Nets try to play slower or if they attempt to match the pace that the Sixers will try to push.
While still working his way back from injury, Lopez is averaging 14.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in about 28 minutes per game. After missing seven straight games, Lopez initially came back on a "restricted" minutes plan. Avery Johnson thought it wise to work him back in slowly. After playing the Utah Jazz and Knicks on consecutive nights, the Nets are coming off of three off days and Lopez, by now, should be back to his normal workload.
In order to be successful, the Nets need him to regain his pre-injury form.
If the Nets lose, they will fall to 13-13 and will be just a .500 basketball team for the first time since they were 2-2 after beating the Orlando Magic back on Nov. 9. For a team that had its sights set on challenging for the Atlantic division title, .500 basketball probably won't cut it.
No Time To Panic
For what it's worth, both Gerald Wallace and Lopez have missed significant time this season. The Nets have had their full starting lineup available for just nine games, and they are 6-3 in those games. Though the team has struggled lately, it seems a bit early to push the panic button.