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Nets try to avoid season sweep vs Knicks

New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

New day, same song. The Brooklyn Nets went into Minnesota hoping to get back on track after a disastrous game in Milwaukee the night before. And much like the previous night, they fell behind by a ton before fighting back to make it close. However, they still lost and are now on a three-game losing streak.

The opponent tonight will be the New York Knicks. The Knicks are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, and they’re gonna have a tough road to make it to the eighth seed. They’ve been off for the past few days after wrapping up their seven-game road trip with a win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. They can’t get too comfy because they’re immediately back on the road in Boston tomorrow night. That’s the life.

Where to follow the game

As usual with these games, we’ve got double coverage. YES Network and MSG on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM and ESPN 98.7 on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson missed Saturday’s game due to a right groin injury. He's out. Caris Levert missed the game with a groin injury. He's out too. D’Angelo Russell sat out Saturday’s game, but he should be good to go for this one. Isaiah Whitehead is likely to stay with Brooklyn as is two-way, James Webb III.

Joakim Noah is away from the team due to “personal reasons,” which is Knick-speak for “on the way out.” Noah hasn’t been playing, had an argument with coach Jeff Hornacek and now is sitting ... with $56 million over three years left on his deal.

The game

The Knicks won the first game in October, second one in December, and third one earlier this month.

Here's something interesting. The Knicks are or were interested in acquiring Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but the Nets wanted a first round pick. RHJ fits perfectly with what the Nets are hoping to accomplish, so if he does get traded, Brooklyn should get a nice haul in return. Personally, I think the Nets should hold on to Hollis-Jefferson and use him as a core player going forward, but you never know what teams may offer.

I gotta admit, I’m starting to warm up to Enes Kanter. Sure he tries a bit too hard, but it's all in good fun and I'm a big proponent of fun. It also helps that he's been good on the court and is third on the team in scoring. Jahlil Okafor had one of his best games as a Net versus Minnesota and should see a good amount of minutes tonight. With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Nets need to figure out what they have with Okafor and getting him playing time should be priority one for Kenny Atkinson.

Defending Kristaps Porzingis will be a tough job for the Nets. In the three games against Brooklyn this season, KP is averaging 23 points a game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field. He’s incredibly difficult to defend as he can make life hell for defenders and stretch out all the way to the three-point line.

Porzingis provided the Nets with some bulletin board material Monday.

“We like to play Brooklyn,” Porzingis told reporters. “I mean, we look better against teams that are not above .500, obviously.” Knicks are six games under .500 and have lost 14 of their last 20.

Player to watch: Trey Burke

We didn’t see this coming. The former Wolverine joined the team a few weeks ago as a free agent and has been playing the best basketball of his pro career. In his six games as a Knick, Burke is shooting 61 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range. That almost certainly isn’t sustainable over the long term, but maybe the Knicks have something here. At the very least, he can do more than Jarrett Jack.

D’Angelo Russell should see Burke when he comes off the bench. The former Buckeye is working his way back into form following his knee injury and has seen his minutes increase each game he’s been back. Brooklyn does have a back-to-back tomorrow, but there’s no travel involved so maybe he plays on Wednesday against the 76ers. It would be a big step forward if he can.

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