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Jahlil Okafor makes his home debut as Nets host Pacers

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New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Woo buddy, that was trash. The Brooklyn Nets went to Toronto to face the Raptors on Friday night, and put on their worst performance of the season. The Raptors wound up winning by 33 points.

The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Pacers. Indy has been the most surprising team in the league this year and has exceeded all of our expectations ... and that’s important because we expected them to be outside the lottery and their second rounder to be ours, the final piece of the Thaddeus Young trade.

The Pacers lost on Friday night to the Pistons. This is the first night of a back-to-back for them. They go home to face the Boston Celtics tomorrow night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 6 PM.

Injuries

Allen Crabbe sat out Friday’s game due to knee soreness. He and DeMarre Carroll who sat Friday too (rest) are expected back vs. Indy.

Glenn Robinson III is out for Indy.

The game

Indy won the first one on Opening Night.

When the Pacers traded Paul George, it looked as if they had gotten fleeced by only getting Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo in return. However, Vic has been sensational this year and is a clear bet favorite to win the Most Improved Player award. Oladipo has increased his field goal percentage each year he's been in the league, and is shooting a career best 47.3 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from three point range. He drives to the basket a great deal, and that opens things up for open looks from deep for his teammates (Indy is third in three point efficiency).

Caris Levert will likely spend a lot of time guarding Oladipo. Also, the new guy can help out too. Nik Stauskas started off hot in his Brooklyn debut and having another three point shooter will make life easier for Kenny Atkinson and friends. Joe Harris needs a shot of confidence. Since missing the Miami game in Mexico City with an intestinal virus, Harris has gone 2-of-15.

We've got a couple of homecomings tonight. Thaddeus Young had a good run when he was in Brooklyn and has kept it going since he went to Indiana in 2016. More surprisingly, Lance Stephenson, who was born ready in Coney Island, has become a fan favorite and a solid bench player. 2017 is fun.

Player to watch: Myles Turner

On one side is the 11th pick of the 2015 Draft. Turner has grown into a solid big man that will play a big part in Indiana's future. One encouraging development for him this year is his increased success from deep. He's shooting a respectable 35.6 percent from downtown and if he continues to improve from there, it'll make him an even more dynamic player. Turner also leads the league in blocks and has been a great rim protector.

On the other side is the second pick of the 2015 Draft. We thought he'd be making his Nets debut at home, but maybe it was best for Jahlil Okafor to suit for the first time on the road. Okafor played on Friday and for a dude who hadn't played in an NBA game in over a month and hadn't seen real playing time in two months, Jah didn't look half bad out there. As he gets back into the groove of playing regularly and adjusting to the pace Brooklyn plays at, he could be around 28 minutes a night.

Expect to see Okafor start to take shots from the perimeter. He missed the two he took the other night, but he and Atkinson are hoping he can develop a 3-point shot.

“I have to get comfortable shooting 3s in the game,” said Okafor. “That’s the way coach wants the team to play. If you’re open for 3 in the corner, he wants guys to shoot it. I’m going to be in the gym constantly so I can knock that down.”

There’s another Turner connection as well. He was succeeded at Texas by Jarrett Allen. Allen has said he relied a lot on Turner during his transition from Austin to the NBA. Expect one or both to dunk on the other ... or at least try.

From the Vault

Tomorrow is Kobe day when his two numbers, 8 and 24, are officially retired at Staples Center. So let’s take a trip back in time to the moment Mr. Bryant entered the superstar arena

More reading: Indy Cornrows