Wolves vs. Nets Gameday



Wolves Pregame Audio
Kevin Ollie

Nets Pregame Audio
TNT analysts Chris Webber and Kenny Smith breakdown Devin Harris' improvement this year after the trade from Dallas.
TNT Audio

Scouting Report
Just five years ago, the New Jersey Nets were considered the dominant force of the Eastern Conference. The Nets reached the NBA Finals in consecutive years, headed by Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and Kenyon Martin. In 2008, Devin Harris, Vince Carter, and Yi Jianlian lead the Nets as the team holds a 9-8 record and second in the Atlantic Division. For the first time since head coach Lawrence Frank took over the position for Byron Scott, the Nets missed the playoffs last season. The rebuilding process is underway in East Rutherford with the franchise trading older, veterans, Kidd and Jefferson for Harris and Jianlian. Entering this season, New Jersey used the 10th overall pick on Stanford center Brook Lopez. The Nets are successful on offense by ranking sixth in the league but the team struggles on defense, 26th in points allowed. The Wolves may feel more comfortable in New Jersey tonight than the Nets. The home squad is just 3-5 at the Izod Center, including a 20-point loss to Washington on Tuesday night.

Harris is off to a spectacular start to the season and is quickly making Nets fans forget Kidd. Through 17 games, Harris averages 24.8 points and six assists per game to lead New Jersey. The four-year point guard is exceptionally quick off the first step; his game is predicated on penetrating the defense. Randy Foye will have to avoid early foul trouble to stay in front of Harris and not allow him to dictate the pace of the game. While giving up three inches, Sebastian Telfair will be able to match the speed of Harris. At the shooting guard position is a fading star in Carter. Spectacular dunks catapulted Carter to superstar status and he was considered one of the most popular players in the league several years ago. Carter continues to deal with injuries year after year but this season he averages 23 points a game to give the Nets an offensive attack in the backcourt. With the injury to Mike Miller, the Wolves are in danger of a major match up problem at the two spot. Rashad McCants could play a big role tonight, as two former North Carolina guards will collide on the court.

The Wolves clearly hold the frontcourt advantage against the Nets. Jianlian is considered a project when Milwaukee drafted him sixth overall last year. Just one year later, New Jersey acquired Jianlian and his abilities are evident in 2008. The best comparison for Jianlian is Dirk Nowitzki. Obviously, the forward from China is yet to post Nowitzki-type numbers but he possesses athletic ability and a great shooting touch. The Nets hope Jianlian can develop his game over the next couple of years in the starting lineup, he averages 10 points and six rebounds a game. Lopez is a legit seven-feet tall and had an incredible career at Stanford. During his rookie season, Lopez is close to averaging a double-double; he will be counted on for defense tonight in New Jersey. Al Jefferson scored 40 points in the meeting of the two teams last year. Minnesota should take advantage of the lack of talent and experience inside the paint from the Nets. Jefferson scored 19 points in the loss to Orlando but he was unable to affect the outcome. Expect a more aggressive performance from Jefferson this evening against Lopez and Jianlian.

Injury Report:
Miller suffered a nasty ankle injury in the loss to Orlando on Wednesday night. The following day, an MRI showed no significant damage and he will attempt to play tonight against the Nets.

For New Jersey, center Josh Boone also needed an MRI on Monday to detect damage on a left ankle injury. Frank said there is no timetable for his return after missing ten straight games.

Projected Starters
New Jersey
Devin Harris, PG
Vince Carter, SG
Bobby Simmons, SF
Yi Jianlian, PF
Brook Lopez, C

Minnesota
Randy Foye, PG
Mike Miller, SG
Ryan Gomes, SF
Al Jefferson, PF
Jason Collins, C