It's always important to put your best foot forward when meeting new people. The Brooklyn Nets went down to Mexico City to face the Thunder and came from 16 points behind to come away with a five point win. In addition to being in Mexico, the Nets made a big move that will shake things up for Kenny Atkinson and friends. More on that in a second.
The opponent tonight will be the Miami Heat. It's been an incredibly disappointing year for Erik Spoelstra's bunch and they're hoping a trip out of the country will get them going. They lost their last game on Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 6 PM.
Nothing new for Brooklyn. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson took a bad fall vs. OKC, but returned and his ankle seems fine.
Hassan Whiteside is out due to a troublesome knee injury.
The big news in Mexico City (well, at least on the basketball court) is the acquisition of Jahlil Okafor from the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets acquired Big Jah (and Nik Stauksas plus a second rounder) from Philly in exchange for Trevor Booker. We'll have more on Jah when the Nets return stateside.
Usually when we talk about the altitude in the NBA, it's when teams travel to Denver to face the Nuggets. However, the Nets and Heat will face an even steeper challenge. Mexico City is 7,382 feet above sea level, much higher than Denver's 5,280. For the Nets, we saw some effects of the altitude as they played at a much slower pace than usual. The Heat feel they can adapt to the altitude, and Kelly Olynyk said:
The Nets have been in Mexico City since Wednesday while the Heat arrived on Friday. Advantage: Brooklyn.
Miami’s players are likely to be reminded of what the Nets did to them on the last game of last season. They sat their three best starters in Jeremy Lin, Brook Lopez, and Trevor Booker — all healthy — against a Bulls team that needed just one win to secure playoff position as the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed. A loss and the surging Heat would have gotten the eighth seed. You know the rest. The Bulls won and the Heat went fishing.
Player to watch: Dion Waiters
Waiters Island can seem like a lonely place. It’s the phrase used to describe those basketball aficionados who believe in the basketball talents of Dion Waiters. The 6’4” shooting guard can light it up or drag you down. He has sheer talent but his inconsistency is legendary. Take his last few games. In the Heat’s tight loss to the Spurs Wednesday, he scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-6 from deep. The game before that, against the Warriors last Sunday, he was 1-of-10, 0-of-5 and tallied a mere four points.
One team he has been consistent against is your Brooklyn Nets. In two games last season, he scored 43 points, shot 17-of-36 overall and 5-of-9 from deep. He also had 17 assists and 10 rebounds. In the second game, he scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the clinching three with 6.8 seconds left.
He’s likely to be guarded by Caris Levert who did such a good job on a far more dangerous guard, Russell Westbrook, on Thursday night. He had the best game of his young career Thursday. The altitude agrees with him!
From the Vault
I'm in a Tim Hardaway mood today, so here is the King of the Crossover...
More reading: Hot Hot Hoops
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Miami Heat Game Notes - Miami Heat
- Nets look to complete Mexico City sweep - STATS/STX
- Caris LeVert is silver lining for Nets’ injury plagued backcourt - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Execs, scouts voice risks, rewards in Nets’ deal for Jahlil Okafor - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Jahlil Okafor joining Nets team beginning to play better - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Heat coach Erik Spoelstra becoming fan of Brooklyn Nets as they continue to improve - Shandel Richardson - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
- Preview: Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets, 6 p.m., Saturday - Ira Winderman - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
- Dion Waiters nursing new injury. Plus, Heat has plenty of respect for new-look Nets - Manny Navarro - Miami Herald