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Nets open four-game road trip vs. Suns in Arizona

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NBA: Toronto Raptors at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night brought us a beautiful Brooklyn blowout courtesy of the physically exhausted and mentally frustrated 76ers. The game was tight for a while there in the first half but the Nets put their foot on the accelerator in the third and Brett Browns squad just couldn’t keep up. Great individual games from Caris Levert, D’Angelo Russell, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson paired with an all around solid defensive effort and an offense that at times was humming made for the most relaxed, fun Nets game all season. Loved it.

The Suns are up next as the Nets kick-off a four-game West Coast swing. It’s a ripe opportunity for a couple of wins in a row, but the three teams they’ll face aren’t walks in the park (Nuggets, Warriors, Timberwolves) which is generally how it goes out West. Anyway, beating the Suns would be a great way to start a road trip. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES Network has this one, starting at 9 pm ET. It’s late because of time zones and geography and such. You know how it works. WFAN as well.

Injuries

Treveon Graham (hamstring) is still out. DeMarre Carroll (ankle) is doubtful, which is a good thing after being out for the first 10 games. It seems like DeMarre is getting closer to a return. He went “pretty hard” in practice before the team flew off to Arizona.

Once he’s at full strength, the 6’8” forward is going to be a huge help on both ends of the floor. He’s may be the best individual defender on the team, certainly on the wing, and he can provide spacing and smart play on a regular basis. Can’t wait to get him back.

For the Suns, T.J. Warren has been day-to-day with back spasms. He missed Sunday’s game, we’ll see if he returns for this one.

The Game

The Young Suns are led, as always, by Devin Booker who’s a threat to put up 30+ points in any and all games. Close friends with D’Angelo Russell, Booker has been every Nets fan’s dream scenario for DLo. This season, Booker is putting up 25.7 points per game to go along with a solid 6.7 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field and 34 percent from three on a high volume of shot attempts. Containing him will largely be up to Caris Levert and maybe even Spencer Dinwiddie, who is the same size —maybe a little bigger— than Booker.

Another aggressive team defensive effort should pay dividends. Phoenix is 29th in the league with 18.8 turnovers per game. The Nets forced 28(!) turnovers against the Sixers and while plenty of those were the result of sloppy and careless play from Philly, the Nets didn’t make it easier for them whatsoever.

Deandre Ayton is the other head of this Phoenix offense, and at 20 years old has been impressing everyone through his first nine career games. He’s putting up 16 points, 10.7 rebounds, kicking in 3.4 assists for good measure, all while shooting 63 percent from the floor. Would I have taken him with the Number 1 overall pick? No shot (I really love Luka Doncic). But he’s already an impactful player and one the Nets are going to have to look out for.

Dinwiddie, by the way, has been great this season. He got a lot of attention after that marvelous Detroit game, but otherwise has seemed to fly fairly under the radar. He’s averaging 14.3 points on 46 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent from three. He’s the Nets best bench player and he’s beginning to really solidify his spot as an bonafide NBA player rather than just a lottery ticket the Nets hit on. Teams are going to be calling about him specifically in the next few months, maybe even these Suns.

Finally, the game will mark the return of Jared Dudley to Phoenix where he playing sparingly last season and rebuffed a buyout offer from the Suns. He’s started first 10 games for Brooklyn.

Player To Watch

Trevor Ariza came over from the Rockets to the Suns this off-season and is a veteran presence on the court. He knows how to play winning basketball —he’s played 102 post-season game— and is the kind of guy who can take advantage of lackadaisical defense and put up a 20 spot if he sees the opportunity. He’s not been great this season, but counting him out would be a mistake.

One player you won’t be able to watch: Tyson Chandler, the veteran center who got a buyout from the Suns Monday

From The Vault

Enjoy.

For a different perspective, take a gander at Bright Side of the Sun, our sister site on SB Nation.