Considering the circumstances, it could've been a hell of a lot worse. The Brooklyn Nets went to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers, but were playing short. Trevor Booker was under the weather and Brook Lopez + Caris Levert were given the night to rest. They gave a good effort, but ultimately fell short to the Cavs. Once this game ends, they travel to Miami to play the Heat on Monday.
The opponent tonight will be the Minnesota TImberwolves. They haven’t done as well as many of us thought, but they’re still within striking distance of the eighth playoff spot. They had won their last three games, but lost to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip after 9.
No Jeremy Lin. No word on Joe Harris or Booker's availability as of this writing. Harris is improving and Booker’s illness sounded short-term. Kenny Atkinson said both Lopez and LeVert will play.
The only injury for the Wolves is Nikola Pekovic, who hasn’t played this season. Everybody else is good to go.
The Nets won the first game in November.
In off the court news, the Wolves will have their own Developmental League affiliate starting next season. Teams are starting to make full use of the D-League and as each team gets their own club, teams and players will both benefit from it.
Zach Lavine has gotten better each season he’s been in the league. After being miscast as a point guard his rookie year, he’s settled into his role as the starting shooting guard and figures to be a big part of the Wolves’ future. He's third in the league in minutes and is averaging a career high 19.3 points per game on a 46.1/40/84.3 shooting split.
After getting last night off, Caris Levert will be back out there tonight. He was given the Spurs game off on Monday to rest in addition to Friday's game. He's done very well in his time back from the leg injury he suffered at Michigan. With the All Star break a few weeks away, I wouldn't be surprised if the Nets got him some extra rest here and there.
Minnesota is in a tricky spot. They’re looking to build to the future as well as trying to compete in the present. Tom Thibodeau has to balance those two things while also working to avoid burning out his players. Kyle Thiege of Canis Hoopus discussed that here:
I would love to see the bench guys get more run, regardless of how close the Wolves do or do not get to competing for the 8-spot in the West. Brandon Rush and Tyus Jones deserve to see the court every night, and while the playoff drought could stretch into its thirteenth year, it’s not worth it to burn out Wiggins, LaVine, or Towns just to gamble for a chance to lose to the Warriors in 5 or less games. Long-term focus > short-term wins and losses.
The Wolves are in good position for the future. All they have to do now is surround some of their young stars with complementary pieces that can continue to help them grow.
Player to watch: Karl Anthony Towns
What sophomore slump? After a fantastic rookie year, the big guy has kept the party going under Tom Thibodeau. He's taken on a bigger role in the offense and has been tsking more three pointers than he did last season. His percentages from the field are down slightly from last year, but he's made up for it by getting to the free throw line more often. He can score in the post and is a dynamic pick and roll player. He can stand to get a little better on defense, but he's only 21 years old and has tons of time to get better on that side of the ball.
Brook Lopez will be back tonight. He has played the majority of the Nets' back-to-backs this year, but was given last night off to rest. If this game is close late, the Nets will need to work to get him better scoring opportunities. He usually dominates the first half of games and struggles in second halves after teams make adjustments.
From the Vault
Throughout the week, BET aired a fantastic biopic on New Edition. With that, let’s take a trip back to 1988 and check out one of their best songs, produced by Minneapolis’ own Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
More reading: Canis Hoopus
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Minnesota Timberwolves Game Notes - Minnesota Timberwolves
- Preview: Nets at Timberwolves - Yahoo! Sports
- Nets-Timberwolves Preview - STATS LLC
- Wolves' increase in assists a positive sign - Kent Youngblood - Minneapolis Star-Tribune
- Timberwolves are sharing the ball like a playoff team - Jace Frederick - St. Paul Pioneer Press