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After Cavaliers loss, Nets face raging Thunder

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NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

How about D’Angelo Russell for Wesley Johnson and the Pelicans first round pick? Or Spencer Dinwiddie for Derrick White and the Spurs lottery protected first rounder? Dinwiddie for Thon Maker? Shabazz Napier and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for Josh Jackson?? Russell for Terrence Ross and a pick???

The Trade Machine has been my only salvation —and obsession— during this seven-game losing streak. (Well, that and the number of days till the Draft Lottery ... 162). Losing to the Cavaliers on Monday night was a breaking point. I mean, the Cavaliers are bad. Not cute bad like the Jazz or the Heat. No. They’re bad bad. Embarrassing loss. Next up is a matchup with Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook who have won three straight against Eastern Conference opponents and eight of the last 10 overall. Maybe a day of rest in their own beds will help the Nets prepare to play for a bounce back win. We’ll see how it goes. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one at 7:30pm, ET. BIG night for YES, the debut of the network’s three person booth: Ian Eagle, Sarah Kustok and Richard Jefferson.


Caris Levert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are still out. Joe Harris (groin) has missed three straight games but is probable for Wednesday

For the Thunder, Andre Roberson (knee) is out. He’s the brother of Arielle, Spencer Dinwiddie’s fiancee. Hamidou Diallo (left ankle) may return vs. the Nets, the team that drafted him, then shipped him off to Charlotte, part of the price for dumping Timofey Mozgov’s contract. The Hornets sent him on to OKC.

The Game

Before we get into everything else, quick shouts to Rodions Kurucs for proving basically every NetsDaily commenter absolutely, positively correct. You guys call on Kenny to play this guy like we’re burying Michael Jordan and I love it. Kid showed up to play too. In his last two games he’s averaging 10 points on 47% shooting in 14.1 minutes of action. He kind of reminds me of Manu Ginobili in the way he’s able to sort of float around the court and never really seems out of place. He knows where to be and has a great feel for the game. Great cuts. The tools are there, everything else will come along with time and experience. Remember, he barely played last year at Barcelona. He should continue to get minutes with the Nets, that much seems obvious.

The Thunder sit third in a bizarre Western Conference, one spot above the Warriors and one behind the Clippers. Wild. The Thunder are not one of the teams I really trust to keep this level of production going all season, but it’s likely they end up in one of the top five playoff seeds regardless. They’re good, but I’m not sure if they’re on the top level yet. Beating them won’t be easy.

The Thunder defense is going to be an issue for the Nets. They’re relentless, leading the league in a bevy of categories of which I’ll name a few: Defensive Rating, Steals, Opponent FG% (tied with Boston), and Opponent Turnovers. For a young Nets team struggling to get anything going right now, this is just not what you want to see on the schedule right now, even at home in Brooklyn.

D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie are also going to have their hands full with Russell Westbrook. While I’ve never been a big fan of his game and think his one-man show is something that just absolutely cannot, has not and will not work in the playoffs, Still, I’m sure he’s salivating at this matchup with the Nets. It’s not that the Nets are bad defensively, but their whole scheme is sort of designed to take away three point attempts (leading the league in limiting opponent three point attempts and makes) and Westbrook is downright awful at shooting. The worst high volume shooter in the league. He’s likely going to attack the rim and draw fouls all night long ... plus somehow end up with 10 assists and 13 rebounds. If he does that again Tuesday —record a triple double— he will surpass Jason Kidd on the all-time list with 108.

And speaking of having your hands full, the Steven Adams - Jarrett Allen matchup will be a big test for Allen. Adams outweighs Allen by about 30 pounds and we all know how physical big men have done —very well— against Brooklyn.

For the Nets, it’s not really clear what exactly they need to or even can switch up at this point. Russell and Dinwiddie both played OK in the loss to the Cavs. The wings underperformed which is to be expected especially with Joe Harris out. There’s still no answer at the 3. I love Kurucs and Dzanan Musa, but playing them is more of a “Tank and let the young guys develop” strategy. If implemented, it would be welcomed with open arms from at least one NetsDaily writer (me, obviously). Until them, we can only hope the Nets bring it and steal a win from one of the better teams in the league.

As Spencer Dinwiddie says when asked what the Nets need to do, “Staying together. It’s early. We’ve had adversity throughout this year that we’re still trying to overcome. Digging ourselves out of holes is what we’re trying to do now. Finishing games is what we’re trying to do now”

Player To Watch

Paul George is one of the best wing defenders in the league and is this team’s most important player, sorry Russell. The trade to acquire him was one of the more interesting ones in recent history: Victor Oladipo who immediately became a star and Domantas Sabonis who is also really good for George. While the Thunder would love to have current day Oladipo and Sabonis on their roster, those two guys were never going to develop in that way next to Westbrook. OKC needed someone who already knew who he was and his place in the league, and Paul George has slotted nicely into that role. He likes it so much that he re-signed for another four years in Oklahoma City, spurning the long favored Lakers. He’s versatile, and his scoring numbers are still really solid. Watch out for him Wednesday night.

From The Vault

Some more content for all you Rodi Stans, I know you’re out there.


For a different perspective, head on over to Loud City, our sister Thunder site on SB Nation.