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Nets make side trip to nation’s capital for game vs. Wizards

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Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Nets took a bad loss against the Heat on Wednesday. Like, bad. The Heat just outplayed them to the point where Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa each played some solid garbage time minutes at the end of the game. Whatever. Both Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen were out, a loss with two key starters missing isn’t the worst thing in the world. Moving on...

The Nets are taking a trip down to Washington for this next one. The Wizards had looked like the most dysfunctional team in the league, but have won three straight ... all against teams with losing records. In fact, Washington hasn’t played a team with a winning record since November 2. Not only aren’t they winning, they’re blowing the easy part of their schedule!

The Nets of course are coming off of three straight losses to the Warriors, Timberwolves, and now the Heat. Kenny and the Nets are going to look to right the ship in this one. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES has this one at 7 p.m. ET. WFAN as well.

Injuries

Caris will be out for a while, and we’ll see if Jarrett Allen is feeling well enough to play in this one. No word on the nature of the severity of the illness. Treveon Graham is still out as well, recovering from his hamstring strain.

The Wizards are healthy at the moment. Must be nice.

The Game

Washington is 5-9 and sit one spot behind the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re more talented, led by John Wall and Bradley Beal (who I would rank in the reverse order I listed them in) and are filled out with a combination of interesting young players like almost-Net Otto Porter and almost-Net Kelly Oubre as well as some perplexing older players like brief one-time Net Dwight Howard and Jeff Green, who Billy King may have pursued or not.

The Beal and Wall backcourt might be hitting its nadir as we speak with the two looking pretty much unable to carry a team together at this point. It’ll be near impossible for Washington to unload that irresponsibly enormous John Wall contract, so Beal could be wearing a new uniform sometime in the near future. Maybe Porter too. We’ll see.

The Nets play a brand of hard, fast, team-oriented basketball which is exactly what the Wizards are bad at dealing with. Wall and Beal are still threats to put up big games, but if they don’t, there isn’t much else to fall back on. Cut off the head and the rest of the game will be easy.

Moreover, the Wizards are horrid on defense. They rank next-to-last in overall team defense, perimeter defense and in opponents assists. They’re 28th in opponent scoring in the fourth quarter; 20th in personal fouls, etc. etc.

I’m still irrationally scared of the Dwightmare. It seems like every damn game the Nets play a center who could put up 20-20 on us. It’s annoying. He did a 32-30 on the Nets last season, you may recall, when he was in a Hornets uniform. Having Jarrett back might help, but still. I’d rather it get to the point where I don’t fear every center with broad shoulders and a decent vertical.

I’m not sure where the Nets go on offense from here on out. Unless Allen Crabbe can find his shot (I’m not even posting his shooting percentages on here, it’ll make me too sad) then their only consistent scorers in the starting lineup are D’Angelo Russell and Joe Harris.

Spencer Dinwiddie is a nice option off the bench, but night in night out he can’t carry a team the way the Nets need right now. I don’t know. It’s not panic time yet, but Kenny Atkinson is going to have to figure some stuff out real quick if he’s actually trying to compete for that eighth seed this season. Otherwise, the Nets should send a few scouts down to Duke to check out some games.

Player To Watch

I’m going with Almost-Net Otto Porter. Some of his numbers are down this season which is sad, but I can’t help but imagine that playing on a team like the Wizards is any good for any young guy’s development. Plus, he hasn’t been bad. He just hasn’t quite been his usual lights-out self. Maybe a change of scenery is needed, and if the Nets are serious about competing, giving Washington a call in a couple months couldn’t hurt. He’d slot very nicely into Jared Dudley’s starting 4 spot. Just sayin’.

From The Vault

Enjoy.

For a different perspective, head on over to Bullets Forever, our sister site on SB Nation.