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Nets continue the road trip in Phoenix

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Philadelphia 76ers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Way to take a punch! On Night 1 of their five game road trip, the Brooklyn Nets withstood a 60-point barrage from Damian Lillard and came away with a solid four-point win on Friday night in Portland. It was the Nets' first road win of the season. A few more before coming back to the warm cold confines of Brooklyn would be nice.

The opponent tonight will be the Phoenix Suns. To my —and a lot of people’s— surprise, the Suns have been pretty damn good to start the season. Monty Williams has the team playing hard and this is shaping up to be the best Suns team in quite some time. They've been off since Thursday after losing to the Miami Heat. They've got another week at home before heading out of town.

A win would give the Nets a winning record for the first time this season: 5-4.

“You want to come out with a winning record. You just look forward to that challenge,” said Kyrie Irving after Friday’s game. “Just use the time to build team camaraderie. All we have is each other -- we have our significant others sometimes on the trips, but for the most part it’s just us.”

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 8 PM.

Injuries

Deandre Jordan is dealing with a sprained ankle and he was updated to probable Saturday. Wilson Chandler is still out because of his PED suspension and Kevin Durant remains in rehab.

Deandre Ayton is out after getting suspended for performance enhancing drug use.

The game

Ricky Rubio makes life so much easier for his teammates. You'll never need him to score, so he fulfills his team's needs by playing solid defense and finding his teammates in great scoring position. Rubio will have his hands full dealing with Kyrie Irving tonight. If a game is close late, you get the ball in Kyrie's hands and let him go to work. It's such a relief for a team when you have a reliable superstar that can bring you home down the stretch.

The Nets in fact have become a bit of an offensive juggernaut. After Friday night’s game, Nets were FIRST in the NBA in points per game (120.8 ppg), FIRST in 3-point shooting (40.5 percent), FIRST in rebounding (61.9 rpg), FIRST in offensive rebounding (12.2 orpg),

If Jordan doesn’t play, we'll get to see another young Nets big man get some more run. Nicolas Claxton made his NBA debut on Friday night and looked pretty good in his 12 minutes of playing time, coming up with eight points and six boards.

He and Jarrett Allen will be wrestling with Aron Baynes on the interior. Baynes' three point shooting has opened things up for the Suns and that combination of shooting, good rebounding, and rim protection will keep him out there even when Ayton returns.

Welcome to the 2019-2020 NBA season, Spencer Dinwiddie! It had been a fairly disappointing start to the year for Dinwiddie as his shot hasn't been there and he's been on a turnover frenzy. He finally broke out Friday night with a 34-point performance and with the road trip getting tougher after tonight, a good run of play will help that Nets second unit immensely.

Player to watch: Devin Booker

Booker's had an interesting career. He's been one of the better scorers in the league since he came into the league in 2015 and has seen his field goal percentage increase each year. During that time, the Suns also expected him to be the main person that initiated offense for his teammates as well. Despite his best efforts, it didn't really work out well for him. Now that Rubio will initiate the offense, Booker can focus on getting beaucoup buckets.

Caris Levert will spend a lot of time guarding the former Wildcat. He didn't have a good game in Portland, but is capable of putting together solid all around games for Brooklyn. Dinwiddie has taken his place in the fourth quarter of close games, so Levert will have some things to prove throughout the year so he can take that next step.

From the Vault

We've got two trips for one important day. On November 9, 1993, the Wu Tang Clan dropped their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). It's a timeless record that still holds up today and established a number of great careers.

Not to be undone, A Tribe Called Quest dropped their third album, Midnight Marauders, on the same day. Marauders is a perfect album that I always find myself playing from front to back whenever I listen to it. There are so many great songs I can put here, but I'm in a Lyrics to Go mood so here we are

More reading: Bright Side of the Sun