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Nets come home to face the Wizards

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

That could’ve gone a bit better. After putting together a great win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Nets attempted to go two for two in the Mexico Games. Unfortunately for them, they came up short late in the game and lost to the Miami Heat by 12 points. They’re back home for a while and figure to be looking a lot different. We’ll get to that in a second.

The opponent tonight is the Washington Wizards. If not for the Thunder, you could make a case for the Wiz being the most disappointing team in the league this season. They were expected to be near the top of the East and in the conversation with teams like the Cavaliers and Celtics.

Although they’re still the favorites to win their Division, they should be a lot better than what they currently are. They’re back on the East Coast after losing a weird one to the Clippers on Saturday afternoon. This is the last night of their five game road trip and the first night of a back-to-back. They go home to play the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Joe Harris missed Saturday’s game due to an illness. No word on his availability for tonight. And of course, Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell remain out.

Gang Sign (also known as John Wall) is close to returning from his knee injury, but won’t be playing tonight.

The game

Today’s (probably) the big day. The Nets acquired Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas last week and it’s likely they’ll be making their debuts tonight. For Okafor in particular, seeing the court after being saddled to the 76ers bench must feel like heaven. He spoke about how he kept his game in shape yesterday and said:

No word on how long Jah will play, but if he does, he’ll see a good amount of Marcin Gortat. Okafor is most comfortable in the low post and the Nets will look to feed him early to get his Brooklyn tenure off to a good start. Gortat has had his issues defending the rim, so look for Brooklyn to target him throughout the game.

Without Wall, the Wiz have been turning to Tim Frazier. Although he’s only averaging 21.5 minutes a game while he’s been starting over the past eight games, he’s been turnover prone and that presents a lot of opportunities for Spencer Dinwiddie and the Nets. Brooklyn will look to speed things up, but the Wizards have been one of the better teams in the league at getting back in transition (they’re a shade outside the top ten in opponent fastbreak points).

Player to watch: Bradley Beal

When you’re missing one All Star guard, it pays to have another one that can step up and fill in the void. With Wall out, Beal has averaged 23 points on a .444/.353/.744 shooting split. Beal has shown that he can carry his team for an extended period and will probably have to do so one more time tonight. Beal gets a lot of his points coming off of screens and the Nets will be tested as they rearrange their defense to fit their new personnel.

Caris Levert and Allen Crabbe will be assigned to Beal. Those two have combined to do a decent job at shooting guard and bring different things to the table.

From the Vault

Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of Otis Redding’s passing at the age of 26. Let’s celebrate the great work he did.

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