Somebody had to win that game. The Brooklyn Nets had lost nine straight games and the Charlotte Hornets seven. Those streaks collided on Tuesday night and the Hornets came away with a four point win over the Nets. It’s their second double digit losing streak of the season.
Coming into town will be the Washington Wizards. 2017 has been fantastic for the Wiz and have gone 14-5 in the New Year, fourth best in the league. They had won seven straight games, but lost a thriller to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Game of the Year on Monday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.
No Jeremy Lin. Caris Levert will be back after missing two games with a knee injury. No word on Quincy Acy.
Ian Mahinmi might make his return to action tonight. He’s been out since December and has only appeared in one game this season.
John Wall has been having the best season of his career. The former number one pick has been averaging career highs in points and assists, but there are some other aspects of his game that deserve attention as well. He’s shooting a career high 81 percent from the free throw line, has been turning the ball over less, and is shooting a career high 42.2 percent on shots from 16 feet to the three point line. Wall is still a player who creates tons of pressure on defenses when he drives to the rim, and now that the other aspects of his game have improved, he’s become an even more difficult player to handle. The Nets did a really good job defending Kemba Walker, so maybe they’ll keep it up tonight.
Brook Lopez ought to have a field day with Marcin Gortat. On shots inside of six feet, Gortat is allowing opponents to shoot 60.4 percent from the field. The strategy for the Nets should be to force feed the ball to the big fella and get Gortat off the court. Backing him up are Jason Smith and a just returning Mahinmi. Like most (every?) day, the Nets will need a huge game out of Lopez if they want to get a win.
The Nets’ three point defense has been shaky, and they’ll be matched up with the league’s best three point shooter. Otto Porter is shooting 46.7 percent from deep and has been having the best season of his career. With Wall’s ability to draw defenders to him, it creates a ton of good looks and he’s been cashing in on them. Rondae Hollis Jefferson has started every game this month and he’ll be the one that will chase Porter around tonight. RHJ does a lot for the Nets and he’ll be the one to chase Porter off the three point line.
Player to watch: Bradley Beal
It was just last summer when it looked as if Beal and Wall hated playing with each other. That seems like a distant memory these days as Beal has been having a fantastic season for the Wiz. He’s getting to the rim more often, getting to the free throw line more often and had a good shot of making his first All Star Game. Having a second playmaker makes life easier for Scott Brooks’ team and when Wall isn’t playing at his best, he can turn to Beal to generate offense.
This is a tough opponent for Caris Levert to return to. He’s been excellent for the Nets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they slowed down a bit with him as we head into the second half of the season. He played a season high 29 minutes in his last appearance (which was his first NBA start), but I’d be surprised if he played that much tonight. For the time being at least, he should be around 18-22 minutes a game.
From the Vault
Monday’s game has me eager for another Cavs vs. Wizards playoff series. It’s been too long since their last one.
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