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Nets try to slow down red hot Jazz

Milwaukee Bucks v Utah Jazz Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

That was quite the sight. Fresh off ending their seven game losing streak on Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets went in to Sunday evening's contest against the Atlanta Hawks hoping to keep things going. They were able to do that and then some with a dominant 22 point win. They also got to salute Vince Carter one final time, which made for a wonderful vibe at the Barclays Center.

The opponent tonight will be the Utah Jazz. It's a bit crowded in the Western Conference and the Jazz are hoping they can go on a big run to differentiate themselves from their fellow contenders. The Jazz have been one of the hottest teams in the league recently snd pushed their winning streak to nine games with a win in DC against the Washington Wizards on Sunday afternoon.

Where to follow the game

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


Kevin Durant's out. That’s it.

Mike Conley's been out due to a hamstring injury and will be out tonight as well.

The game

Utah won the first matchup in November.

This is the first night of a back-to-back for the Nets. They're in Philadelphia to face the 76ers tomorrow night. We'll see how the team manages Caris LeVert and Kyrie Irving's respective workloads tonight.

We talked about the All Star Game with relation to Atlanta's Trae Young on Sunday, and we have two contenders on the West side. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have continued to play well and they've kept things steady as Conley has dealt with his injuries. Getting that nod would be a nice reward for their hard work and a great chance to showcase their skills for the national audience in Chicago.

In the mean time, Jarrett Allen and Deandre Jordan will look to keep Gobert off the boards. All three are among the top 20 in rebound percentage so if Brooklyn wins the rebounding battle, they can speed the game up to the pace that they like.

When Conley gets back, Quin Snyder and Jazz management will have to figure out what role The Paul George Stopper Joe Ingles will have. Jason S. Walker of SLC Dunk explains:

One offseason side-story was that Ingles would likely move from full-time starter to bench leader. He’d be a sixth man playing almost as many minutes as before. That experiment appears to have failed as Ingles clearly thrives when playing with and off the starters, Rudy Gobert in particular.

So when Conley makes his inevitable return, should Snyder move him back to the bench? Or should Royce O’Neale take Ingles’ old spot as first off the bench? Another thing to take into account is the addition of Clarkson. His job is to lead the bench via scoring. Could Ingles thrive in a lineup with a score-first/score-only guys like Clarkson and Mudiay?

It's a good problem to have, so we'll see how Utah approaches things in the second half of the season.

It's good to have Kyrie Irving back. He had missed 26 games, but looked as if he hadn't missed a day on Sunday against the Hawks. His shots were falling, his handles looked as crisp as ever, and he was in total control throughout. Now that he's back, the Nets have their lead scoring and playmaking option back. More importantly, everyone on the roster can slide down to roles that best fit their current skill sets. The second unit gets a lift as they'll have one of either Levert or Spencer Dinwiddie running things on a more full time basis. The Nets have one more scoring option to turn to in crunch time. And most importantly, Irving is really fun to watch. Win-win for everybody.

Player to watch: Bojan Bogdanovic

Bogie's bounced around some since he was traded from the Nets to the Washington Wizards in 2017, but he's been solid everywhere he's played. He joined Utah as a free agent after two good seasons with Indiana and has filled the scoring void caused by Conley's absence. Bogie's averaging a career high 21 points a night on a .445/.415/.900 shooting line. It pays to have as many scoring options as possible, and if Bogdanovic keeps his level of play up, Utah could be in line to make a deep playoff run.

With Caris LeVert back, there's less pressure on Joe Harris to be that second scoring option. Like a lot of Nets, he had his fair share of struggles during the losing streak. Now that the squad is as close to 100 percent as they'll get, Harris will be the beneficiary of the attention Irving gets from opposing defenses.

From the Vault

Mary J. Blige celebrated her birthday over the weekend, and this song is one of my favorites to wake up to. You hear it and your mood becomes better instantly.

More reading: SLC Dunk