Five straight. The Brooklyn Nets weren't able to get it together and ended up losing to the Milwaukee Bucks 122-118 in a triple overtime affair on Wednesday. Tonight is the first half of a back-to-back that will take them to San Antonio after this game concludes. Times are rough for the Nets and a win would do wonders in cooling down an increasingly impatient fanbase.
Waiting for the Nets will be the depleted Oklahoma City Thunder. As expected, the team has been struggling and are coming off of a home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. They have lost four straight games. There's still a long way to go in the season, so the main goal for the Thunder right now is to remain in striking distance until reinforcements arrive.
Where to follow the game
On television, tune in to the game on the YES Network. For the folks near a radio, listen in at WFAN 101.9 FM. Tip off is a little bit after 8:00.
Nothing to report for the Nets on this front.
For Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are still out of action. They've started to work out with the team and hopefully they'll be back soon. The game is much more fun when KD and Russ are in it. Anthony Morrow, the former Net who missed the first game between the two teams, is healthy.
Last time these two teams played, it was the Nets' home opener and they won by 31 points.
Something to keep an eye on is the amount of minutes played for Brooklyn's "Big Three." Joe Johnson and Deron Williams both played over 50 minutes and Brook Lopez 43. The game in San Antonio figures to be more difficult so the minutes they play tonight will have an effect on Saturday's game. If Brooklyn had their way, they'd jump out to a big lead early, actually hold on to it, and keep the Big There's minutes in the low 30s.
The Nets' three point shooting was a staple of their early season success, but they've shot under 20 percent three times during this five game losing streak. Bojan Bogdanovic has shot well from deep and is one of the leading rookie scorers in the league.
When KD and Russ initially went down, the offense ran through Serge Ibaka. He started off well, but has cooled off a bit over the last week and change. He is coming off of a 22 point and 13 rebound game against Denver so maybe he's about to go on a hot streak. One welcome addition that will do wonders for the team when Durant and Westbrook return is Ibaka's three point shooting. For a player that barely attempted any threes in his first four seasons in the league, he's already attempted 59 and is shooting a more than respectable 39.5 percent from deep. Having a competent third option that can stretch the floor and take some focus off of KD and Russ will help them immensely once the playoffs roll around.
Lopez had a good game against Milwaukee, and will face a good challenge in the Thunder duo of Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams. Even in 43 minutes of action, Lopez collected only seven rebounds. It didn't matter that much because he shot 11-19 from the field, but that's an area that will continue to receive attention as the season progresses. Perk and Adams will provide physical play in the low post and will try to push him off of the block. If they can keep Lopez shooting jumpers all night long, then they will have done their jobs.
We'll also get to see old friend Anthony Morrow. The ex Net missed the first meeting and has struggled from deep to begin his season. He's made one of his last ten three point attempts, but he can get hot at a moment's notice so the Nets have to be on their toes defensively.
Player to watch: Reggie Jackson
One thing that came out after the game from early November was the reported freeze out of Jackson. Ibaka and Perk felt Jackson was getting too shot happy and kept the ball away from him. That apparent freeze out led to a comical moment in which Perk dribbled up court, tried to make a pass, and Deron Williams had an easy steal + layup. Bet that won't happen again.
You can understand why Jackson would be shot happy. He's the primary ball handler on a team missing its two best players and he is a (restricted) free agent at the end of this season. James Harden perfectly explained Jackson's predicament, saying:
"He has to get the money that he's earned and that he's worked his whole life for. It's the nature of the business. It's going to happen every single year, and it's going to continue to happen."
The size advantage Deron Williams has on most point guards won't be here tonight. Jackson has the length to offset Williams' size when he posts up. On offense, Jackson will consistently keep the heat on Brooklyn. He drives to the rim 12 times a game and shoots 53 percent when he does. That penetration also opens things up for players like Morrow and Ibaka from deep. Jackson's jumper hasn't been there much this season, so Brooklyn should avoid going for pump fakes and should work to keep him on the perimeter. Easier said than done though.
From the Vault
I've been on a Seattle Supersonics kick for the past couple of months. Head on back to the 1997 playoffs and watch Gary Payton try to keep his team's season alive against the Phoenix Suns.
More reading: Welcome to Loud City
- Brooklyn Nets: Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Oklahoma City Thunder Game Notes - Oklahoma City Thunder
- Nets-Thunder Preview - Nicolino diBenedetto - STATS LLC
- One big reason why the Nets are off to another horrific start - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets rewind: Showing their age on a long night - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets trying to avoid six-game skid - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets and Brook Lopez hope to end slide in OKC, writes Ohm Youngmisuk - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Kidd predicted Nets' play for Joe Johnson - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Joe Johnson, Nets want to snap five-game losing streak - Colin Stephenson - Newsday
- Nets seek road to recovery against Thunder - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- PIC: These Guards Average More Rebounds Per Game Than Brook Lopez - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Nets Report Card: Joe Johnson - Brian Erni - SNY Nets
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Next eight games will provide answers to a messy situation - Darnell Mayberry - The Oklahoman
- Thunder Buddies Podcast: Is it time to panic about the Thunder's playoff chances? - Darnell Mayberry - The Oklahoman