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Nets face undefeated Pelicans in New Orleans

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New Orleans Pelicans v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Nets climbed back up to a .500 record with a relatively easy win over the Cavaliers Wednesday night. They looked good throughout, but never better than during the third quarter when they put up a big 38 spot and ran away from Cleveland for good. The Nets got a day off following that one, and are looking to grab themselves a little road dog win in New Orleans. Should be a fun one! Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one for an 8:00 p.m. ET start. Richard Jefferson was a delight in his first game in the booth, by the way. Listening to Ian Eagle explain to him in real time why J.R. Smith had a bandage over his Supreme tattoo was a highlight. He was also reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez’s announcing style, which was enjoyable. Overall, a fun debut. Welcome back R.J.!

Injuries

Rodions Kurucs (ankle) is still out, as is Treveon Graham (left hamstring). DeMarre Carroll is still recovering from surgery and is out as well, obviously.

The Pelicans are healthy save for Julius Randle dealing with a little plantar fasciitis, but he’s expected to play.

The Game

The Pelicans are not going to be a pushover like that Cavs team was. Not one bit. This team might be a lot better than people realized going into the season, and they could end up a top four seed in the West if all goes well. They also have players that specifically will be trouble for the Nets in a couple of their weak spots. A big-man rotation of Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, and Julius Randle is a nightmare for most teams, and the Nets are really going to have their hands full dealing with this three-headed monster. They’re the team’s three leading scorers and rebounders. Here’s the kicker though: They can all shoot. The Nets did a nice job containing the Cavs’ big men offensively, but the Pelicans are multiple levels ahead of them. The Cavs are like one of those kids you battle on the side of the road in Pokemon and the Pelicans are a Gym Leader.

Shabazz Napier, sticking with this analogy, might just be the Nets version of Pikachu. Energetic, disagreeable (in a good way), fast, skilled. He looked good in his debut despite having missed a lot of basketball over the past month. It was fun seeing him go at Larry Nance Jr. after he thought he’d been shoved. They were cool with each other within a minute, but every good team needs some bite. I’m all in on Shabazz.

The defensive weakness the Nets are going to try to exploit is on the wing, where E’Twaun Moore, Ian Clark, and Darius Miller see significant minutes. None of them are horrific, but the point is manned by Jrue Holiday and the bigs are the aforementioned Cerberus, so the wing it is. Expect Caris LeVert’s number to be called a lot in this one.

D’Angelo Russell also looked much better in that last game. 18 points, eight assists with only ONE turnover? Give me that line any night. Did he shoot 35 percent from the field and 28 percent from three? Sure he did. But let’s take our wins where we can get them.

Player To Watch

Anthony Davis is probably going to win the MVP this season. It’s super early to make that prediction, but if he stays healthy and drags New Orleans into the playoffs putting up something like 30 and 13 with three blocks and two steals a game (his current, insane line), it would be surprising if he didn’t at least finish top three in voting. Plus everyone who is going to win an MVP has won one already - Harden, Steph, LeBron, KD. They’ve got theirs. It really could be Davis’ turn next. He might be the third best player in the league, and he’s an absolute monster to watch on a nightly basis. It would be great if he put up a dud against the Nets, but chances are he’s going to get his usual video game numbers and then some. Dude’s a legendary pokemon. Probably Lugia, if I had to choose off of the top of my head.

Another player to watch: Jahlil Okafor, Davis’ back-up. The former Net said recently that he enjoyed his time with the Nets — “It was a good experience” — and he learned from it, deciding to re-build his physique and his psyche this summer. The Pelicans signed him this summer and after coming back from an injury in preseason, he’s played nine minutes in two games, scoring four points.

From The Vault

We’re staying on theme for this one. Get pumped. Enjoy!

For a different perspective, head on over to The Bird Writes, our sister site on SB Nation.