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48-9 vs. 9-48 — Nets try to upset the Warriors

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We’re back, and unfortunately for Brooklyn, the losing streak came with them. the Nets began their season long road trip in Denver last night, and got beat down by 20 points. The losing streak is at 15 games. After this game, they'll be off until Wednesday when they play the Kimgs in Sacramento.

The opponent this evening will be the Golden State Warriors. They’ve been running the West and will likely end up with the best record in the league again once the season ends. They faced the Clippers on Thursday and knocked them around like they usually do. Once this game wraps up, they’re heading to Philly to begin a five game road trip on Monday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. It’s a late night affair so tip off is after 10:30 PM.

Injuries

Quincy Acy is likely out for this game.

Nothing doing for the Warriors.

The game

The Warriors won the first meeting back in December.

When you’re on top of the league, you’re gonna catch strays from all angles. This time, it’s Shaquille O’Neal who’s firing shots at the Warriors. As is his wont, Shaq got on Inside the NBA and made fun of Javale McGee. McGee doesn’t like when O’Neal does that, and responded on Twitter. It escalated from there and now the whole team is involved. Team management reportedly spoke with TNT behind the scenes about it while Kevin Durant took a more... direct approach:

Oh KD was just getting warmed up:

"Shaq was a s---ty free throw shooter. He missed dunks. He airballed free throws. He couldn't shoot outside the paint. He's bigger than everybody. He didn't have any skill, but he was bigger and stronger than everybody. And he's still a great player, but you had your flaws too as a player. And he played on five or six teams too, so it's not like he was just like this perfect center. You had your flaws, too."

There’s a lot to digest so let’s try to cover it all. Outside of the no skill comment, KD was on the money. Shaq is 5-0 and needs to relax with the McGee jokes since Javale is taking it so personally. The team probably shouldn’t have went to TNT management with this. You look like a tattle tale when you do that. But ultimately, this story will blow over soon and we'll be back to business as usual.

On the court, KD has fit in perfectly. He doesn't have to as much on offense, but he's still his usual hyper efficient self. It's freed him up to be more engaged on defense and that's hell on Earth for opposing forwards. Caris Levert started last night and with this being the second half of a back-to-back, his minutes will probably be in the low 20s tonight.

The Warriors are pretty weak at Center, and this is where Brook Lopez can have the advantage. If he can get the G-State bigs in early foul trouble, it will help keep the Nets close. Also, he's going to need to get more than one rebound tonight. Can't be a player as good as him and finish a game with one board.

Jeremy Lin returned last night and played 15 minutes. Look for his minutes to gradually increase as he gets more games under his belt. He and the Nets will have their hands full tryimg to guard Stephen Curry. Steph was "struggling" for a bit earlier in the season, but is back to his MVP form. Since the start of 2017 (22 games), Curry's averaging 21 points and seven assists a night on a 48/42.9/87.9 shooting split. He's impossible to defend and can score from anywhere in the building.

This game will likely be decided in the third quarter. The Warriors are far and away the best third quarter team in the NBA, outscoring teams by almost 24 points per 100 possessions. Teams tend to hang close to the Warriors for a bit before they get hit with a flurry that has them deep in the hole. On the other side, the Nets are far and away the wodst third quarter team in the NBA, as they've been outscored by 16 points per 100 possessions. It's been the case for years, but the Nets will start games off strong and gradually fade as it progresses. If they're not careful, they'll be down 20+ points before they know what hits them.

Player to watch: Draymond Green

Draymond is the perfect example of a player you'd love if he were on your team but would hate any other time. He's always hollering at people, can't stop kicking people, and loves to complain to the refs. On the other side, he plays hard every night, pushes his teammates to be better, does a great job of orchestrating the league's most dangerous offense, and is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year. There's always a chance that Dray will implode and ruin everything, but that's a risk you take with a player this great.

This will be a hell of a test for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. It appears that Kenny Atkinson will be playing RHJ at the four for the time being, so we'll see how he adjusts to the new role. Hollis-Jefferson cam be a mini jack of all trades for Brooklyn and if he's able to hold his own at the four, it will diversify Brooklyn's attack and make the team more dynamic.

From the Vault

We’re taking two trips to the Vault today. With everybody griping about last weekend’s Dunk Contest, let’s revisit one of Jason Richardson’s years in the competition.

And since we’re in Oakland and it’s the last game during Black History Month around these parts, it’s a great time to learn about the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program. After the video, I’d recommend you read this article as well.

More reading: Golden State of Mind