The Brooklyn Nets have started 2-0 on their eight-game road trip, but things get much tougher when they visit the Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Nets have topped the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks to start this road odyssey. Brooklyn has taken four of its last five away from the Barclays Center.
While resting, the Nets clinched a playoff berth. When the Philadelphia 76ers lost in Denver to the Nuggets, Brooklyn made the postseason for the first time in six years.
The Nets are 1 1/2 games behind the New York Knicks for the lead in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn is 2 1/2 games up on the Atlanta Hawks for fourth, which becomes huge as the top four seeds get homecourt advantage in the first round.
The Nets used spectacular efforts from Brook Lopez and Deron Williams in a 113-96 win Wednesday in Dallas. Lopez recorded 38 points and 11 rebounds, while Williams had 31 points. Lopez carried the Nets in the first half and Williams took over in the second.
"I don't want to say it's as good as we can play, but that's one of our best games all year," said interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. "It's a helluva win for us."
The Nets won the final three quarters, 91-64.
The Clippers come into Saturday night's critical contest alternating wins and losses over their last nine games. After a horrendous loss in Sacramento on Tuesday, the Clippers blew the doors of the Philadelphia 76ers, 101-72 on Wednesday.
Chris Paul led the way with 19 points for the Clippers and he only played a shade over 31 minutes, which was a team high. Caron Butler (14), Willie Green (13), Jamal Crawford (12) and Ryan Hollins (10) all scored in double figures.
In fact, all 11 Clippers who saw action Wednesday made a field goal.
"That's the whole idea, for everyone to contribute," said Blake Griffin, who only managed seven points in the win. "Some nights some guys might not be scoring as much, but if you can contribute one way or another that's the whole goal and I thought we did a good job of that tonight."
The Clippers are in a fight for playoff positioning. They trail the Denver Nuggets by a half-game for third in the Western Conference, but are only a half-game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies for fourth.
They are three wins away from the first 50-win season in franchise history.
The Nets have won five of the last six against the Clippers, but have only won one of their last eight on the road in this series.