Almost a miracle, but almost doesn't count. The Brooklyn Nets dug themselves a deep hole, got all the way out of it, but came up one point short as the Toronto Raptors extended their franchise record winning streak to 14 on Saturday night. So, so close.
The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Pacers. Nate McMillan has his guys competing hard every night, and they have a decent chance of grabbing home court in the first round of the playoffs. They didn't help their cause with a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. It was their fifth straight loss.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30 PM.
Kyrie Irving is sitting this one out. Kenny Atkinson suggested that he could return for Wednesday’s final game before the All-Star Break, but he has to be re-evaluated, probably Monday. Kevin Durant is making progress. Dzanan Musa, Jeremiah Martin and Theo Pinson remain with Long Island.
Victor Oladipo was held out of Saturday's game as it was the second leg of a back-to-back, so there's a good chance he's back tonight.
We've got another first time All Star in the house. Domantas Sabonis has put together another good season and was named as a reserve for the game in Chicago on Sunday. He'll also be in the skills competition on Saturday night. I'm almost certain we're going to hear "Man, I remember going up against his dad and how tough he was." I'm good with it because Arvydas Sabonis was awesome and the more we talk about him, the better.
I still wonder about the fit between Sabonis and Myles Turner, but one thing that hasn't been questioned is Indy's shot protection at the rim. The Pacers are allowing opponents to shoot 60.2 percent inside of the restricted area, fourth best in the league (the Nets are right behind them in fifth). Brooklyn leads the league in attemps inside the restricted area, but are near the bottom in terms of finishing once they get there. It'll make for a complex challenge for Kenny Atkinson and his guys.
Caris Levert is coming off arguably the best game of his young NBA career on Saturday. He scored a career high 37 points and looked like the best player on the court as he and the Nets fought back. When the Nets get back from the All Star break, things will pick up in a hurry and if Levert continues playing well, Brooklyn can position themselves well for a playoff run.
Player to watch: Malcolm Brogdon
It's been an injury filled season for Indiana's marquee free agent acquisition. Throughout the year, he's been bothered by back (twice), groin, and hamstring injuries in addition to suffering a concussion. That in addition to being on a new team and taking on a new role has led to a dip in his on court production. He's getting less shots at the rim than last season, but that's probably a function of the offenses he's been in as the 2018-19 Milwaukee Bucks drove to the rim a lot more than this year's Pacers do. One thing that is concerning is the big jump in turnovers. Even with an expanded role, he's got to take better care of the ball as the lead man. Once Oladipo is all the way back, that role will be split evenly between them.
Something that I hope gets mentioned in the game is the program he, Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, and other NBA players are in. It's called Hoops20 and the goal is to help bring clean water to the continent of Africa. Harris spoke about it last month here. Having access to clean water is something we sometimes take for granted. In the United States, locales as close to us in the Bronx, down to Baltimore, Flint, Bruni, Texas, and a whole bunch of places in between have had issues with clean water. That lack of access can lead to damaging, life altering effects for individuals living through it now and for the generations that follow them. Working to improve that can unlock so many opportunities and most importantly, create safer and healthier communities. Shout out to Brogdon, Harris, and everyone working to address this issue.
Spencer Dinwiddie will keep on keeping on. It'll be tough for him to finish over the duo of Turner and Sabonis at the rim. He's at his best when he's driving to the basket so he shouldn't change his approach too much tonight.
From the Vault
Shout out to all around legend and Pacers fashion icon Florence Griffith Joyner!
More reading: Indy Cornrows
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Indiana Pacers Game Notes - Indiana Pacers
- Pacers aim to stop skid at home vs. Nets - STATS/TSX
- Caris LeVert surge forcing Nets into intriguing Kyrie Irving spot - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets’ Rodions Kurucs rediscovering confidence after messy offseason - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Jordan, Nets show fourth-quarter stopping power - Greg Logan - Newsday
- NETS VS. PACERS: CARIS LEVERT IS PICKING UP SPEED - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Pacers have no answers after 5th-straight defeat signals longest losing streak in 2 years - Nathan Brown - Indianapolis Star