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Nets face tall task against league leading Bucks

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New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks

Technical difficulties. The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to sneak out of Philadelphia with a good win, but fell apart in the fourth (again) and suffered a dispiriting loss on Wednesday night against the 76ers. They'll see the Sixers again on Monday for MLK Day.

The opponent tonight will be the Milwaukee Bucks. Yeah, these dudes are scary. Milwaukee owns the best record in the league and have spent the year beating the hell out of teams. They almost tricked off a huge lead against the Boston Celtics, but they held on for the win on Thursday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network (and NBATV for the out-of-towners and overseas fans) on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 6 PM.

Also, if you’re going to Brooklyn, the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a special Spencer Dinwiddie as Iron Man bobblehead. The Brooklyn guard is a big fan of the character and the Marvel series of movies.

Injuries

Joe Harris is out with a back issue. DeAndre Jordan had to leave Wednesday's game due to a dislocated finger. He'll be reevaluated in a week. Garrett Temple missed Wednesday’s game with a right knee injury but he’s likely to play.

Donte DiVincenzo has been dealing with a right finger sprain, but he played on Thursday so he should be good for tonight as well.

The game

As it usually happens, Kyrie Irving is currently getting yelled at, this time for the following:

“I mean it’s out there. It’s transparent. It’s glaring. In terms of the pieces we need to be at the next level. I’m going to continue to reiterate it. We’re going to do the best we can with the guys we have in our locker room now and we’ll worry about all the other stuff, in terms of moving all the pieces and everything else, as an organization down the line in the summer.

It’s just something we signed up for. We knew what we were coming in for at the beginning of the season.

Guys were going down left and right. GT is out. DJ just got hurt tonight. Wilson is coming back. We’ve got complementary young guys as well that have done a great job the last three years.”

Irving was speaking about the team and their championship aspirations.

If we’re being honest, those comments aren’t different from what analysts, fans, etc have said about the Nets chances’ this season. And when we take a look at Irving’s comments themselves, it’s fairly boilerplate “the guys in this room will battle” kind of rhetoric we hear all the time. We all know the roster is banged up and that they haven’t had the time to fully get acclimated with each other. Give it about a week and this “controversy” will blow over.

Back on the court, Irving will look to shake off a poor shooting night in Philly. He only went 6-of-21 (after hitting 22-of-30 his first two games back) and the three-guard fit with him, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Caris LeVert didn’t have the greatest of nights. There's still time for them to click, but the clock's ticking on the season and the All Star Break is starting to come into view. Those are the breaks (pun intended).

It's always good to see our large adult son flourishing. Old friend Brook Lopez has continued to reinvent himself and he's now one of the best rim protectors in the league. Opponents are only shooting 41.6 percent on shots inside of six feet against the big fella. He and twin brother Robin, playing together for the first time since Stanford, are a menace to opposing players —and mascots— alike.

With Jordan out, Nicolas Claxton should get a chance to play. The rookie has been with the Long Island Nets in the G-League for much of the season as he's gotten a chance to get some consistent reps in.

“We’ll see it by committee,” Kenny Atkinson said following practice Friday. “Nic will play and he’ll get a shot at it. It’s good he had some great Long Island minutes and understands the system. You saw we played Wilson [Chandler] at the five, could see [Rodions Kurucs] at the five. I think we have to be creative.”

I didn’t realize this, but the Nets are the second worst free throw shooting team in the league at 73.2 percent. The Bucks aren’t much better at 73.5 percent. Eek.

Just how scary are the Bucks? They're the: second best offense, No. 1 in defense, fastest paced team, and best shooting team. They’re on pace to the NBA’s third 70-win team ... all time. If the Nets fall behind early, it has a chance to snowball into something severe.

Player to watch: Giannis Antetokuonmpo

There is a tall man wearing #34 that is terrorizing opponents. No, I'm not talking about Shaquille O'Neal. I'm talking about the Greek Freak! Giannis has managed to build off of his MVP season and has developed into a passable three point shooter. Considering just how good he already is, if he can continue to shoot around 33 percent from deep, then he becomes impossible to stop. I feel bad for the people guarding him.

Who will be the “lucky” man to guard Giannis? Taurean Prince will be one of many Nets assigned to Antetokounmpo. If there's one weakness in Antetokounmpo's game, it's free throw shooting. Prince, Wilson Chandler, and the rest of the Nets will need to play their best games of the season to pull off the upset tonight.

From the Vault

Two trips today. This year’s inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced on Wednesday, and two of the headliners are New Jersey’s own Whitney Houston and Brooklyn’s Finest, Biggie Smalls. First, we’re heading to Newark.

And to bring us home, let’s head on back to BK.

More reading: Brewhoop