The Brooklyn Nets are hoping to bounce back after a heartbreaking one point loss to the Detroit Pistons on Thursday. As the Orlando Magic ride into Brooklyn, the Nets will look to capitalize on a Magic team that is toiling in mediocrity as the NBA season winds down.
Orlando is a team that looks good conceptually. Payton is a driving, pass first guard that sets up shooters like Fournier and slashers like Ross and Gordon with Vucevic anchoring the team at the five. Ross can get a hot hand and shoot lights out from three, Gordon is one of the most interesting young power forward prospects in the league, Fournier looked so good last season it allowed Orlando to move Victor Oladipo, and Vucevic is a highly polished center from a low-post offense standpoint.
If Brooklyn wants kick April off with a victory they will need to force Payton to shoot jumpers, erase Ross and Gordon offensively, and let Brook take Vucevic to the paint.
It is no secret that Elfrid Payton is no jump shooter. There are a lot of aspects of his game that are wonderful, but his jumper has not been a selling point. Jeremy Lin will need to prevent him from driving the lane, force him to his off hand, and try to keep him shooting as many jumpers as possible. The defense as a whole will have to try to force the ball out of the hands of their scorers and keep it in Payton’s as much as possible and as late into the shot clock as possible. The later he holds onto the ball, the more likely Brooklyn is to see him force an ill-advised jumper.
Orlando’s two biggest threats to Brooklyn will be Ross and Gordon, so the Nets will need to get the ball out of their hands and deny them the ball. Ross is a slasher who can score big when hot, while Gordon is a raw mass of athleticism that can become explosively disruptive if not kept in check. Thankfully they will be matched up on two of the best defenders on the team in LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson. LeVert has all the tools to shut Ross down while Hollis-Jefferson should be more than up to the task of disrupting Gordon.
Lastly, the Nets will need to let Brook exploit Vucevic’s weaknesses defending on the low block. Brook has been and always will be an elite low post presence on offense. He is highly skilled an understands all the nuances that go into every post move and counter in his bag of tricks. If Vucevic is playing him well on the low block, then Brook can just take him outside and start hitting threes. Having a player like Brook on the roster is crucial to how this offense can operate.