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Nets host Pistons

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San Antonio Spurs s v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

That one hurt in more ways than one. The Brooklyn Nets played another close game, and like their previous contest, were unable to pull it out in the final seconds as they lost another heartbreaker, this time to the Toronto Raptors. And to make matters worse, they suffered some key injuries along the way. More on that in a second.

The opponent tonight will be the Detroit Pistons. Stan Van Gundy has got his guys playing hard and they have a good chance of making the playoffs, but they’ve lost three out of their last four. Their most recent loss was to the Pelicans in New Orleans on Monday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Nik Stauskas is questionable with a sprained left ankle. Allen Crabbe is doubtful with a sore left shin. DeMarre Carroll is out with his right knee sprain and is day-to-day. Isaiah Whitehead remains with Long Island and Milton Doyle with Brooklyn.

Reggie Jackson is out due to an ankle injury he suffered recently. Stanley Johnson will be returning from a hip injury.

The game

Now that we’re in trading season, teams will be looking around hoping to find players that will help them as we draw closer to playoff time. The Pistons have expressed some interest in Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic, so we’ll keep an eye out and see if something gets done before the deadline.

In a case of too little too late, the Last Two Minutes report found that the refs missed some calls that could’ve swung Monday’s game in Brooklyn’s favor. The NBA saying they’re bad doesn’t do a thing, but at least the players won’t feel as if they’re crazy when they question certain calls.

Spencer Dinwiddie spoke about the lack of calls, and hit on something a lot of us don’t take into consideration enough:

“It’s going to take a lot of maturity because the hardest part about this is that we have so many guys that are on the brink of being in the NBA or getting another contract, and these close losses when they stack up – two, three, four, five in a row – they change the tenure of the season because it completely shifts the narrative of how Nets basketball is played.

“If these close losses turn into wins, we’re close to .500 ball. We’re looking at the playoffs. There’s a different morale, different vibe. Instead of always coming in here feeling a certain way about whatever happened on the court. It’s hard because everybody in here is trying to put food on the table for their families and provide. A couple wins here and there really affect the tenure of a season for a young ball club that’s fighting.

A few of these close games go their way and the entire tenor of the season is changed.

With Crabbe and Stauskas hurting, Caris Levert will take on a bigger role. He struggled in his return to action after he missed two games, but he'll be fine. One thing to worry about as he's handling the ball more is the turnovers. He's turned the ball over more this season and that spells trouble against a player like Avery Bradley. AB has had a disappointing first year in Detroit, but he's shown himself to be a very good defender throughout his career.

Player to watch: Andre Drummond

Drummond being able to shoot free throws might be the biggest surprise in the NBA this year. Coming into the season, he had only crossed the 40 percent barrier from the free-throw line once in his five-year career. However, he's shooting a career-high 62.3 percent from the line this year. He credits the improvement with a back to basics approach, and it's helped in other areas of his game. He's getting a lot more assists than usual and that's helped him get more playing time.

Jahlil Okafor and Jarrett Allen will look to make contributions coming off the bench. Allen might be better suited to play more minutes than Jah due to his athleticism, but Okafor's low-post scoring ability creates exciting new possibilities for Kenny Atkinson. We'll see how the minutes get allocated as Okafor gets more experience with the team.

From the Vault

Recently, Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson reunited after a decades long beef between them. Let’s revisit their reunion, and I would recommend you grab a tissue if you don’t have one already.

More reading: Detroit Bad Boys