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Nets go for four straight against Wizards

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

It is mid-December and the Nets have won three straight and are two games out of the playoffs. As bizarre as it might seem, that eight-game losing streak barely set them back in the standings and looking at the landscape at the bottom of the East, it isn’t inconceivable to imagine the Nets making a run and positioning themselves in the bottom of the playoff seeding. Wild.

One of the teams standing between Brooklyn and that eighth seed is the Washington Wizards, who come to town Friday night to play the Nets for the third time already this season, with the first two match-ups having been split. The Wizards have lost three straight, are as much of a mess as ever, and very well might be the fourth straight victims of the reinvigorated Brooklyn Basketball Franchise. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one at 7:30pm, ET. It is also a City Edition jersey game.

Injuries

Caris Levert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are still out. Allen Crabbe (knee) is questionable. No word on whether Dzanan Musa will be playing for Brooklyn and Long Island.

Dwight Howard (back) is out for a while and Otto Porter (knee) missed Wednesday nights game against the Celtics.

The Game

The win against the Sixers was one of the best of the season. The Nets built themselves a lead and were finally able to hold off a good team from making a late comeback, although it ended up closer than anyone would have liked. I couldn’t believe Landry Shamet was making those shots at the end of the game, curse of the Player-To-Watch, I guess. Obviously, Dinwiddie was lights out, leading the team with 39 points, but the other contributions from guys like Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis were just as important.

Ed Davis is the perfect caddy for Jarrett Allen at this point in his career. With Dwight Howard out he probably won’t be needed as much defensively in this one but when Allen starts getting bullied down low by guys like Joel Embiid, bringing in Ed Davis to stop the bleeding is a great strategy. The guy just knows how to play hard, smart basketball and he’ll never try to do too much. He’s in there to grab boards, set screens, and throw some necessary hard fouls around. He’s also averaging 17.2 rebounds per 36 minutes.

The Wizards, especially without Howard, have the worst rebounding percentage in the league at 45.7% which is something the Nets are hopefully going to take advantage of. The Nets, on the other hand, are 20th in the league, at 49.6% which isn’t amazing but is definitely better than where Washington sits right now. Their big man rotation is weak, with Jeff Green and Thomas Bryant their starting power forward and center. For real. It feels like twice a week the Nets play one of the best centers in the league so seeing these dudes on the schedule must be a nice break.

Allen Crabbe (who is questionable with knee soreness) is starting to look better and there’s reason to believe he might not be quite as bad as he was at the beginning of the season. Is he still paid too much and probably Sean Marks worst move so far as a General Manager? Yes. Am I going to complain that he’s averaging 17.5 points per game while shooting 55.9% from three over his last four games? Nope. Those four games span the three-game win streak and a close loss to the Thunder. None of that is coincidence. I’ve been saying it again and again this season, but if Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe are both hitting shots at the same time this entire offense opens up and guess what? Harris has been shooting 57% from three over that same four-game span. Hmm. Interesting.

You thought I wasn’t going to talk about Rodions Kurucs didn’t you? I really fell in love with Rodi during that Sixers game. He looked amazing. Even that terrible pass he threw away at the end was not only somewhat excusable and understandable due to his great play leading up to it and the fact that it was his 12th ever NBA game, but he stayed on the floor and made a great pass just a few plays later. He put up a career high 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, hit a three, and made four out of his five free throws. He was +5 for the game. He knows how to play good basketball and his energy provides a much needed jolt to this team, especially late in games. He’s a big part of the reason the Nets held onto the lead in this one.

The Nets are going to have to rest up on Thursday to get ready for John Wall and Beal. Even at their worst they’re two extraordinarily talented guards and makeup one of the best backcourts in the league. Both of them have seen dips in productivity, and it seems clear at this point that a breakup is what they need, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still go off on certain nights when they’re feeling it.

Player To Watch

Kelly Oubre is having a nice little season despite the mess of a team he’s surrounded with. He’s never been great from three, and is shooting just 31 percent from deep this season, but he gets his points, draws fouls, and seems to be one of the few remaining Wizards players who really cares. It doesn’t hurt that he’s going to be up for a new contract soon. He’s the kind of guy that might all of a sudden have 20 points in the third quarter because of attention being paid to Wall and Beal. His usage rate is also up a tick while his turnover rate is down. That’s what you like to see from young guys, even though a lot of the time he’s being hit right in the hands by a crisp Wall pass.

From The Vault

Remember when the Nets went 12-70 in a single season and were supposed to win the lottery and take John Wall but they ended up choosing third and were stuck with Derrick Favors? I try not to think about it. It’s like showing up late to pick your Pokemon and instead of getting Charmander you somehow get screwed into taking a Geodude. Anyway, have nice weekends everyone.

Enjoy.

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