It's good to be back. After three ugly losses in a row, the Brooklyn Nets ended their five game road trip on a positive note with a win against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday evening. They'll be in town all week before an eventful Thanksgiving week.
The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Pacers. Indy is still making strides to get where they wanna go, but they're hanging tough. They fought hard against the Milwaukee Bucks, but wound up losing by 19 points on Saturday night. It was second night of a back-to-back and they lost on Friday, too, to Houston. Indiana has a few days off after this before returning to action on Saturday against Orlando. Rest will do their bodies good.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.
No Caris Levert. Kyrie Irving missed Saturday's game with the right shoulder impingment. The Nets declared him out for a second game late Monday. After spending Sunday with the Long Island Nets —14 points in 32 minutes— Rodions Kurucs is back with the big club.
On the other side, no Victor Oladipo, but he was assigned to the Pacers' G League affiliate so he's on the way back. Malcolm Brogdon has been bothered by back spasms and had to miss Saturday's game. He's out tonight. So are TJ McConnell who missed Saturday's game with a groin injury, and Jeremy Lamb who sat out with an ankle injury.
Indy won the first game in October.
As both of these fanbases can attest to, injuries will derail the best laid plans. Once they get close to full strength and an extended run of playing time together, we'll have a better read of what they may be able to accomplish come playoff time.
Speaking of injuries, Myles Turner is back after missing a few weeks due to an ankle injury he suffered when playing against the Nets last month. He played 33 minutes on Saturday and came away looking pretty good and healthy. Turner will be the anchor for Nate McMillan's defense and is someone who can score from deep and in the post. I think Nicolas Claxton would do well to get an opportunity against Turner tonight. The rookie has looked good in limited action so far and adds a different dimension to the team.
I can kinda get used to Joe Harris taking on a bigger role in the offense. With Irving and Levert out, he had a season high 15 field goal attempts and scored a season high 22 points to go along with eight assists and no turnovers. Having variety in your offense is essential and when the Nets are at full strength, they'll have more ways to attack opposing defenses. TJ Warren will be someone that spends time checking Harris. Warren spent five mostly disappointing years in Phoenix before coming over via trade in the summer. He's been a decent third option so far, but will be better suited sliding down a role once Oladipo gets back.
Assuming Irving is limited or out again, Spencer Dinwiddie will pick up the scoring load. Dinwiddie saved the day in the fourth and when he's on his game, can score in bunches. Assuming the Pacers backcourt is still limited, he'll be in line for another big game. Indiana's backcourt is beseiged by injuries so the Holiday brothers, Aaron and Justin, will be out there for major minutes tonight.
Then, there’s the “kids” who helped them beat the Bulls: Claxton, Dzanan Musa and Theo Pinson.
“I’ve got to keep reminding myself, let’s trust these guys, trust your development program, trust your young guys,” Kenny Atkinson said, post-game. “I’m not sure I’ve done a great job of that so far. I have to trust them because they’ve done the work, they know the program, they know what we’re doing. Trust them.”
“These are opportunities for these guys. Players are born out of situations like this,” Atkinson added.
He had particular praise for Musa who after totaling just 39 minutes all of last season, logged 29 on Saturday, finishing with seven rebounds and five assists to go with his five points. He’s still the youngest player on the roster, at 20.
“Musa is not afraid.” You can say a lot of things about Musa, but he’s not afraid of the moment.” He relishes it quite honestly. I love his spirit, how he gets after it.”
For their part, Musa and Pinson talked about picking up their games, their moment.
“I’m not afraid of the moment. I’m built for this. I’m only afraid of God, so it’s my time. … I take advantage of my opportunity every time I step on the court,” said Musa.
“My teammates give me the confidence to go out and play aggressive,” Pinson said. “They just told me to be myself. They saw what I did in training camp. Even carrying over from last year on Long Island, they wanted me to carry that over to here, just being aggressive, and I tried to do that tonight.”
Player to watch: Domantas Sabonis
I've gotten to the age where I can say "I remember watching your dad play in the league!" Even with his Hall of Fame dad, Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas Sabonis has been doing a good job making a name for himself. He's had to take on a greater offensive load and is doing decently enough all things considered. There was discussion this summer as to whether he and Turner can coexist in the frontcourt together, but the Pacers still have time to answer that question.
Taurean Prince will be at the four for Brooklyn and will be looking to bounce back from a subpar game on Saturday. By and large, Prince has been a solid offseason pickup for Kenny Atkinson's bunch, and will look to help Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan out on the boards.
From the Vault
"2001" turned 20 over the weekend, so it's only right we start the week off with this
More reading: Indy Cornrows
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Indiana Pacers Game Notes - Indiana Pacers
- Nets looking for breakthrough against Pacers - STATS/TSX
- Dzanan Musa isn’t backing down from major Nets chance - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Theo Pinson helps to lead strong bench attack for Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- The Nets must find a balance between Kyrie Irving and the rest of the team - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- The good, the bad and the injured: 10 thoughts from the Nets’ first long road trip of the season - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- Nets and Kyrie Irving still finding their groove, but there are positive signs with Kyrie’s ‘Rejection Tour’ looming - Frank Isola - The Athletic NBA
- NETS VS. PACERS: BACK IN BROOKLYN TO FACE INDIANA - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Insider: Losing Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell, Pacers struggle in loss to Bucks - J. Michael - Indianapolis Star