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Nets begin road trip in Indiana

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was mad real. The Brooklyn Nets went into Friday's game against the Washington Wizards riding a four-game losing streak and hoping to snap out of it before embarking on their FIVE-game road trip. How did they do? Well, they beat the Wiz by 35 points. Not too shabby.

The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Pacers. Nate McMillan and friends have been one of the pleasant surprises in the league this season and are in line to make it to the playoffs for the third They’ve been off the past few days after beating the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Nothing brand new for the Nets. Isaiah Whitehead will play for the Long Island Nets at Nassau Coliseum vs. the Canton Charge later Saturday. Milton Doyle, meanwhile, is on the Brooklyn Nets roster for the first time.

Only Glenn Robinson III is out for Indy.

The game

Indiana won the first game in October and the second one last week.

Well, the Nets were dead serious when they said they were taking things slowly with Jahlil Okafor. Despite the blowout last night, Jah didn't get onto the court and has only appeared in one game since the trade. To their —and his— credit, Okafor is taking this in stride and Kenny Atkinson has sound reasoning for his decision, but I see it another way. When I went to the D(now G) League All Star Game a few years ago, I noted that the Nets were missing out by not having their own developmental affiliate. They fixed that problem and now have a club that isn’t too far from home base. When you have a young player that needs reps to get in game shape for the system you run, having him get some real live game action nearby while he gets up to speed would be perfect for all parties.

Allen Crabbe and Caris Levert will get another crack at stopping Victor Oladipo. The former Hoosier dropped 26 points on 9-14 from the field when he played the Nets last Sunday. If this game is close in the fourth, Vic will look to take over. He’s tenth in the league in fourth quarter scoring, averaging 6.3 points on a 44.9/36.8/79.6 shooting split.

Rebounding will likely determine the winner of this game. Indy has won the battle of the boards in both meetings this year even though they’re middle of the pack in comparison to other teams. When the Pacers do get boards, it starts their fastbreak, and they make a killing when they’re on the run. Indiana is third in fastbreak points, averaging 15 a night.

Player to watch: Bojan Bogdanovic

I was watching the end of the Celtics-Pacers game on Monday, and this happened...

Eek. That disastrous moment aside, it's actually been a great season for the former Net. He's at career highs in: minutes per game, field goal percentage, and 3-point percentage while he's at a career low in turnover rate. It looks as if Bogdanovic is finally living up (at age 28) to the potential he'd shown in international competition. If he can continue to be a solid second to third scoring option, it'll help keep the Pacers in playoff contention.

In case you don’t recall, Bogie and Chris McCullough were traded to Washington last February for the first round pick that became Jarrett Allen and Andew Nicholson who was then sent to Portland over the summer for Allen Crabbe. Bogdanovic left Washington and signed in Indiana.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will get some time guarding his former teammate. RHJ has been terrific for the Nets this year and you can see him improving every game out. I think a lot about how teams have essentially eliminated mid range jumpers from their arsenals, but those shots are perfect for Rondae. He’s shooting 50 percent on shots from 10-16 feet, and that spot seems to be in his wheelhouse. Why bother taking shots you (and damn near everyone in the league) knows you aren’t good at when you can build upon your strengths in other spots on the floor? It’s a great use of a player’s skills and it’s helped to keep Brooklyn competitive in most games.

From the Vault

It’s Christmas time, so let’s spend it with the pride of Gary, Indiana.

More reading: Indy Cornrows