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Nets play host to Rockets in battle of 3-pointers

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Not so super. The Brooklyn Nets played a noon game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, but couldn’t do much against them and lost by 15 points at home. When this one wraps up, they’re off to Detroit to face the new look Pistons.

The opponent this evening will be the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have been sensational this year and are one of the favorites to make it to the Finals. They’ve been off the past few days after they mollywhopped the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night. Those off days will come in handy because as soon as this one ends, they’re off to Miami to play the Heat tomorrow night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Quincy Acy is questionable with a finger injury while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is out with a groin injury, his sixth straight missed game.

Trevor Ariza is out due to a hamstring injury while Eric Gordon is probable after a back injury that caused him to miss two games.

The game

Houston won the first game in November.

An old friend of ours might be on the move. With the trade deadline on Thursday, the Rockets are looking to trade former Net Ryan Anderson. Ryno is having a solid season for Mike D’Antoni’s squad, but if there’s a chance to either upgrade the power forward position or the bench, look for him to be playing somewhere else by the weekend.

Speaking of trades, Brooklyn made another one yesterday. The team traded Tyler Zeller to the Milwaukee Bucks for Rashad Vaughn and a future second round draft pick. The trade creates a logjam in the backcourt, but the Nets will be able to figure out how to make the most of Vaughn’s game. No word if he’ll be active vs. Houston.

This one might set a record. Last time these teams played, they threw up an NBA record 89 three pointers. I’m kinda hoping we get to 100 tonight.

The matchup at center should be fun. Clint Capela has been the anchor of Houston’s interior defense and his ability to finish in the pick and roll ensures that he’ll play big minutes come playoff time. With Zeller gone, Jarrett Allen and Jahlil Okafor will split all the minutes at center. Allen has excelled since he moved into the starting five and will look to thwart Rockets players away from the rim when they drive to the basket.

The transition to D’Antoni’s offense has been a seamless one for Chris Paul. CP3 has been outstanding as usual, and his presence allows for a flexibility that’s never really been seen on a D’Antoni team. Spencer Dinwiddie will have the unenviable task of making life difficult for Paul. Dinwiddie’s three point shot has disappeared in 2018, as he’s shooting only 27.9 percen from deep on six attempts a game. If he can’t turn it around tonight, the Nets are in danger of getting run out the Barclays Center.

Player to watch: James Harden

Say hello the frontrunner for MVP. Although he had a ROUGH stretch to close out 2017, Harden has been sensational this season. Sure the 31 points and nine assists while shooting 38 percent from deep are terrific, I’m most impressed by the sharp decrease in turnovers. After leading the league in turnovers for four straight seasons, Harden has been turning the ball over at one of the lowest rates of his career. For a player like him in a fast paced offense like Houston’s, those extra possessions are crucial and allow an already dangerous offense even more opportunities to score points. Also, Harden’s defense has been non-disastrous too. The Rockets are eighth in defensive efficiency this year and have been defending at essentially the same level when Harden is on the court or on the bench. Over at Fanrag Sports, Kelly Scaletta made this observation:

These aren’t anomalies and coincidence. Sure, having Luc Mbah a Moute, P.J. Tucker and Chris Paul helps (though no one excused him for his lack of defensive help before). So does the fact that he shed 12 pounds over the summer and dedicated himself to diet and conditioning so that he’d have the energy to commit to both ends of the court.

Give credit where it’s due. He has gotten better.

Allen Crabbe will have his hands full tonight. If he can manage to contest Harden’s shots without getting baited into fouls, he’ll be able to keep the Nets in the game. Caris Levert recently came back from injury, so tonight will be the perfect test for him. He’s been solid and going up with the best two guard in the league can do wonders for his confidence if he plays well.

From the Vault

Hakeem Olajuwon recently turned 55 years old. With that in mind, let’s revisit one of Dream’s greatest games (with a special guest appearance by Vernon Maxwell!)

More reading: The Dream Shake