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Mavericks vs. Nets preview: Brooklyn's fighting for the playoffs

Mavericks and Nets play at 7:30 p.m. CT at the American Airlines Center on Fox Sports Southwest.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Nets done lately?

Brooklyn is currently one of the six Eastern Conference teams in a race for the no. 7 and no. 8 seeds, but after losing five of their last seven, they've actually dropped out of the top eight for the first time in a while. (The Pacers, who have a fun little story that gets even more interesting when Paul George comes back, have replaced them for the time being.)

There's just not a lot that's interesting about this team. They have a few okay players, a few veterans who can still put up stats, but not really much else. They've been feasting on the terribleness of their division and of the East in general, but still are nine games under .500. Of the six East playoff hopefuls, I'm rooting for Indiana, Detroit or Boston. Sorry Nets.

Who's an important Net to watch for?

Deron Williams is actually back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench behind Jarrett Jack for a while. It's crazy how things have changed for D-Will, going from a desirable max contract guy to a bench player, but hey, it's cool he's doing a little better. Does he have anything left in the tank?

By the way, I'm not convinced he would have been an abject failure if he had chosen Dallas. It's probably better things worked out the way they did, but injuries have been his issue, and the Mavericks training staff is one of the best in the business. You can't assume his career would have played out the same -- that's the Butterfly Effect and whatnot.

Who's an important Maverick to watch for?

Chandler Parsons is out for the fourth straight game (although he's doing better), so let's see if Richard Jefferson can come through one more time in the starting lineup while going up against his former team.

What stat could decide this game?

Points. But also 3-point shooting, since the Nets nearly beat the Rockets on Friday if not for 4-17 shooting from deep, including an 0-8 showing from Jack, Williams and Joe Johnson. Mavs killer Mirza Teletovic is out for the year (best wishes to him), but if Brooklyn does hit some threes, that would make this game a little tougher.