Four straight. The Brooklyn Nets had lost three straight games before their game Monday night against a depleted Miami Heat team on the second night of a back-to-back. Unfortunately for Brooklyn fans, the team wasn't able to take advantage and ended up losing 95-83 at home. Times are rough and the Nets and with the schedule getting tougher from here on out, they need to get things in order quickly.
Coming into the Barclays Center will be the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are on the second night of a back-to-back and almost blew a 22 point fourth quarter lead but held on to beat the New York Knicks but held on win at home. They are the second youngest team in the Association, and even with their late game struggles, every night is a great learning opportunity. They are coached by Jason Kidd.
Where to follow the game
On television, you can watch on the YES Network. If you're near the radio, you can tune in at WFAN 101.9 FM. Tip off is at 7:30.
Nothing to report on the injury front for Brooklyn.
Larry Sanders was a late scratch last night with a thigh contusion and his status for this game is unknown as of this writing.
Things are going sideways fast for Brooklyn. The ball movement that defined their play last homestand has been virtually absent during this losing streak. What has carried over from recent years has been the team's struggles in the third quarter. Teams are outscoring Brooklyn by close to seven points per 100 possessions in the third. The season is still young, so they have time to get things in order. However, they have a lot to work on.
The funny thing about calling people out is that you put the spotlight on yourself in the process as well. For Joe Johnson, the spotlight hasn't been pretty. He's only shooting 41 percent over the last week and has only made two three pointers. Young, athletic teams tend to give the Nets trouble, and the Bucks have a bunch of perimeter players that fit the bill. Khris Middleton, Jared Dudley and a plethora of Bucks will take turns guarding Johnson.
Brook Lopez is the key to the Nets' potential success this year, and his struggles are starting to become more pronounced. It bears repeating that he's still working his way back from a serious injury, but there are still things that need improvement. He only collected one rebound against one of the league's worst rebounding teams and his passing has caused concern (again). Lionel Hollins is on a mission to mold Brook into one of the league's best big men, and so far it's been a rocky road.
We all know what the big story of this game will be. Last year, the Nets brought Jason Kidd back to the organization as the team's head coach. He began to grow into the position as the season progressed and was able to reach the second round before losing to the Heat in five games. And then, all hell broke loose. Kidd tried to pull a power play within the organization, but it didn't work and now he's coaching the young Bucks. Nets players don't hold any ill will towards Kidd, but I doubt the Barclays crowd feels the same.
Quietly, the Bucks have been one of the league's best defenses. The Bucks are allowing 97.3 points per 100 possessions, which is good for fifth best in the league. A lot of that is due to the rejuvenated play of Larry Sanders. I spoke with Brew Hoop's Frank Madden last month and this is what he said about Sanders:
Larry was his own worst enemy over the past twelve months, so at this point it's entirely on him to get himself back to where he was two years ago. We've heard good things about him getting his head right and re-dedicating himself to the game this summer, but talk is cheap and he's no longer going to get the benefit of the doubt. That said, he was starting to come around when a stray James Harden elbow fractured a bone near his eye last February, and even with all the struggles he still ranked second among centers in defensive RPM last year. He'll have every chance to retain the starting center spot, and any hope of the Bucks defending respectably would seem to ride on his mobility and ability to protect the rim.
Depending on if Sanders plays, Lopez will have a tough go of it on the inside against the long Bucks. Sanders is one of the league's best interior defenders and he has more than enough length to hassle Lopez on any post up attempts. At some point, I imagine the broadcast will bring up Kidd lobbying for a trade that would've sent Brook and Mirza Teletovic to the Bucks for Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. Tonight should be fun.
We'll also get to see two of the best rookies in action tonight. Bojan Bogdanovic has been relatively hit or miss but is coming off a great shooting night against the Heat. He made nine of his 11 attempts, including four three pointers. On the other side is super rookie and number two pick in the 2014 Draft Jabari Parker. Parker is only shooting 44.4 percent from the field and isn't getting to the free throw line that often, but there's no need to fret. He's averaging close to 11 points and six rebounds in about 29 minutes a game and as he gets more comfortable in the league, his stats will match up with his potential.
Player to watch: Giannis Antetokoumpo
Giannis is such a joy to watch. He's tall as hell for his position, has a good handle, is a good rebounder and is still growing! He comes off the bench and is a good change of pace player. He and Parker are two perfect players to build around, and assuming Kidd doesn't quit, the team will be set for the foreseeable future.
He only played 17:53 against New York due to foul trouble, so he should be fresh for this one. Most of his scoring comes from inside the restricted area, where he's shooting a more than respectable 59.4 percent. He will end up defending Johnson at points, and his seven foot wingspan will more than makeup for the size advantage Johnson has in the low post. He's incredibly agile for his size and I wouldn't be surprised if we see him on Deron Williams.
From the Vault
Dig into the vault with Robin Roberts as she takes a look back at the career of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly known as Lew Alcindor).
More reading: Brew Hoop
- Brooklyn Nets: Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Milwaukee Bucks Game Notes - Milwaukee Bucks
- Bucks-Nets Preview - AP
- Nets have no hard feelings toward former coach Jason Kidd - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- With Kidd visit looming, Nets attempting to stay focused - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- Five ways Nets would be different team if Kidd stuck around - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets rewind: Joe Johnson not so chatty now - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Bucks, Young and Rebuilding, Look to Jabari Parker to Lead the Way Back - Ben Strauss - New York Times
- Jason Kidd, About to Face Nets, Again Sheds Little Light on His Departure - Ben Strauss - New York Times
- Nets take high road as they await matchup with Jason Kidd's Bucks - Colin Stephenson - Newsday
- On Nets barbs, Jason Kidd just passes - Peter Botte - New York Daily News
- As Kidd returns to face Nets, team rep says time to move on - Justin Tasch - New York Daily News
Jason Kidd's return gives Nets fans bitter taste - Larry Fleisher - Metro
- Kevin Garnett hopes Jason Kidd gets warm reception Wednesday - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Time to toughen up, Nets - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Kidd returns to Brooklyn; KG says Jason deserves cheers - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets Divorce Handled Well by This Kidd…Jason Kidd - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Slumping Nets can’t ‘Kidd’ themselves - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- Jason Kidd isn't talking about Brooklyn, as confirmed by awkward silence - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Preview: Bucks vs. Nets - Charles F. Gardner - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
- Notes - Zaza Pachulia shines as last-minute starter in Bucks' victory - Charles F. Gardner - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
- Jason Kidd prepares for New York showdown - Charles F. Gardner - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
- Bucks GM John Hammond was never concerned about Jason Kidd recruitment - Sean Deveney - The Sporting News
Milwaukee Bucks Coach Jason Kidd prepared for rude return in Brooklyn - Michael Lee - Washington Post