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Nets look to snap Warriors’ winning streak

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Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It’s only gonna get harder from here. The Nets took a trip to Toronto to play the Raptors on Tuesday night, and got walloped by a not so close 12 points. It was Brooklyn’s third straight loss and eighth in their last ten. This is the first night of a championship back-to-back. Who’s waiting for them tomorrow? The Cavaliers. Merry Christmas, Brooklyn.

Coming into town will be the Golden State Warriors. We’ll always have our 3-1 lead jokes, but the Dubs have gotten back to the business of beating the hell out of teams. They are currently on a ten game winning streak and during that run, they’ve won games by 17, 21, 29, 36, and 45. They faced a tough Jazz team on Tuesday and ran them out the gym. This is the first night of a back-to-back and three game road trip. They’re in Detroit on Friday to face a cratering Pistons team, but who cares about that game. The main event of the early portion of the season will be on Christmas Day as they visit Cleveland to face the Cavs.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Isaiah Whitehead missed the last game due to foot soreness. His availability for this one is “questionable.” Chris McCullough continues his assignment with Long Island.

Nothing stands out for the Dubs.

The game

With growing research on back-to-backs and the effects it has on players’ bodies, I wouldn’t be surprised if some Warriors players were given the night off tonight to rest or played fewer minutes than usual.

So, what do you do to beat these dudes? Their defense was having trouble earlier in the season, but they've locked in and are second in defensive efficiency. Outscore them? Good luck. The Dubs are on pace to have one of the most efficient seasons on offense in league history. Goad them into one on one play? They lead the league in assists and are top five in three point percentage. There's only one person that might be able to slow them down, and the Nets will see him tomorrow.

He may be the most disliked player in the league (or at least my Twitter timeline), but Draymond Green might be the NBA’s best defender. Green can guard all five positions, can shut down pick and rolls, is a fantastic rim protector, and locks down forwards that try to post him up. If by some miracle this game is close late, don’t try to hit the game winner over him. He’s not a fan of that.

With three days off between games, Brook Lopez should be well rested for this contest. If there’s any weakness on the Warriors, it’s the center position. Zaza Pachulia has been a bit of a disappointment, but Javale McGee has had flashes of great play and looks like a solid rotation player for Steve Kerr. Lopez’s season high in field goal attempts is 25, and the Nets might need that many shots from the big guy if they hope to be competitive.

Jeremy Lin is back in the starting lineup, and he’ll be assigned to the back-to-back MVP. Steph Curry’s shooting numbers are down slightly, but he’s still been very efficient from the floor. The discussion surrounding him this week has been on his lack of success shooting threes off the dribble. As the season progresses, he’ll get back to making (even more of) the wild shots we know and love. When Lin is playing well, he is able to break defenses down and set teammates up with quality looks from three point range. It’s hard to say how long he’ll play (if he does at all) with his minutes restriction and the Nets having another game tomorrow evening. The Nets have been running short at point guard for the better part of a month and if Lin isn’t able to play heavy minutes, things will continue to go south for Brooklyn.

Lin spoke about the game, the Warriors and the Nets during shootaround Thursday.

Player to watch: Kevin Durant

There were a few concerns about whether Durant would take some time to get adjusted to the Warriors’ style of play, but as it turns out, he's fit in like a glove. KD is averaging close to 26 points per game, but he’s having the best shooting season of his career. He’s shooting 53.9 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent from three point range. When you dig into the numbers a bit, we see that he’s taking fewer shots off the dribble and has some more catch and shoot opportunities. When you have a team that moves the ball around like the Warriors do and combine it with a seven footer that shoots like Durant, beautiful things will happen.

His offense has been great, but his defense has been worth discussing as well. During the playoffs last year, we saw just how dominant he can be when he’s locked in on that side of the ball. His wingspan is more than seven feet and he’s a lot stronger than he looks, which comes in incredibly handy when he’s asked to guard power forwards in the low post or when he’s matched up with wing players on the perimeter. Here’s Draymond with a bit more on KD:

“Although I already believed it, I think KD proved he can guard anybody in the NBA. Whether he wants to or not is another question. But that’s what I took away from that (Timberwolves) game. He can really defend anyone. It’s pretty unique. He’s stronger than he looks.”

Sean Kilpatrick and Rondae Hollis Jefferson are in store for a difficult evening. RHJ is the Nets best perimeter defender and should see at least 20 minutes tonight. RHJ has been working to add new skills into his repertoire, and tonight is as good as any to see how he matches up against one of the game’s greatest players.

From the Vault

We’re double dipping today. First up, get to know about the late Nate Thurmond.

And to close out, Merry Christmas from Big Boi and Andre 3000.

More reading: Golden State of Mind