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December 20th, 2010

What to Watch This Week

Editors Note: This is our series of Monday morning looks at the week ahead for the Nets. We'll quickly review the weekend, give you three things to focus on and offer a couple quick hits to keep in your pocket while watching the games. Enjoy!

What Happened This Weekend
The Nets rebounded from a poor fourth-quarter performance in Fridays 98-92 loss to the Raptors, beating the Hawks at home on Sunday. The 89-82 victory was sparked by an inspired showing from the Nets second unit, which played well enough to build a five-point fourth-quarter lead before Devin Harris and Brook Lopez returned to close out the victory. SF Quinton Ross injured his back early on against the Raptors, and missed the Hawks game, which bumped Travis Outlaw back into the starting lineup alongside Stephen Graham.

Three Things to Focus On
The Nets are away for a back-to-back set this week, first challenging the Grizzlies on Tuesday (8 p.m., YES, 970 AM The Apple, TV Companion) and then the Hornets on Wednesday (8 p.m., YES, WFAN 660 AM, TV Companion). Next week kicks off with Monday nights matchup with the Magic (7 p.m., Buy Tickets). Here's three things to focus on for the week:

  1. Can Devin Harris continue to drive the Nets to success?

    Twenty-Eight games into the season, the Nets are 7-1 when Devin Harris scores at least 21 points, the only loss coming at the hands of Jameer Nelson and his last-second baseline fadeaway on November 13. By contrast, they are 1-19 when he doesnt, and the lone victory came when Harris was ejected against the Clippers on November 15 after posting eight points and seven assists in only 14 minutes.

    When Harris is at his most aggressive, attacking the basket with abandon, but keeping an eye out for open teammates, this offense operates at its best. For the Nets to build on their recent 2-of-3 stretch, hell have to keep that up first in a more favorable matchup against Mike Conley, and then in a tougher one against Hornets All-Pro Chris Paul.

  2. Can the rotation keep revolving in successful substitutes?

    The Nets lost three swingmen in the span of a week Damion James broke his foot, Anthony Morrow strained his hamstring (stretching!) and Quinton Ross was flattened in the first quarter against Toronto. Yet the Nets won two of three against the Wizards, Raptors and Hawks due to contributions from all kinds of contributors.

    Against the Hawks on Sunday, Stephen Graham earned a start, turning in season-high totals 10 points and seven rebounds. Newly acquired guard Sasha Vujacic enlivened the team with energetic play on both ends during his two games. Troy Murphy even earned extended run on Sunday, putting up eight points and five rebounds in effective minutes.

    Those players and others will be counted on in unexpected ways until the others can return, and Nets coach Avery Johnson will experiment as much as he needs to in the meantime.

  3. Will we see more of Derrick Favors at the 5?

    One of the lineups most crucial to Sundays win against Atlanta featured Troy Murphy at power forward alongside Derrick Favors at center. Favors is viewed long-term as a power forward, but Avery Johnson felt the rookies strength has improved enough that in the right matchups he can slide to the 5, and perhaps open a window for Murphy, who spaces the floor well with his long-range shooting.

    Johnson remains committed to developing Favors with on-court experience, leaving a tough decision to be made between Kris Humphries (averaging double-digit rebounds as a starter) and Murphy (a 10th-year veteran whos averaged a double-double in five of nine seasons). Occasionally shifting Favors to center offers more options for the coach to utilize all three.

Quick Hits
Courtesy of PR PR (Patrick Rees) and the boys over in the corner offices:

  • Kris Humphries is averaging a career-high and team-high 9.1 rebounds throughout the first 28 games of the season. He has tallied 10-plus rebounds 13 times and 15-plus boards five times, including a career-high tying 18 at Cleveland on November 10. He has recorded a team-high eight double-doubles, including four in the last six games.

  • Jordan Farmar made his third career start and first in a Nets uniform vs. Oklahoma City on December 1. He tallied a career-high 28 points, on career-high 12-for-21 shooting, adding nine assists and two steals in a career-high 52 minutes. His previous start came on April 18, 2007 as a member of the Lakers at Sacramento. Los Angeles won 117-106 and he finished with six points, three assists and two steals in 24 minutes.

--Posted by Ben Couch at 3:45 p.m.

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