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Nets look to get back on track vs the Nuggets

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Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Started well, and ended... not well. Yeah, not well is one way to put it. The Brooklyn Nets got off to an excellent start on Sunday night, but fell apart as the game progressed and wound up taking an ugly loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at home.

The opponent tonight will be the Denver Nuggets. Michael Malone’s guys are coming off their best season since the Carmelo Anthony era and are hoping they can topple the Los Angeles Lakers and make it to the NBA Finals this summer. They’ve been on the road for the past few days and came away with a blowout win against the Knicks at MSG on Sunday evening. It’s been an eh start for Michael Malone’s guys, but it’s early and the roster is different from last year so it’s gonna take them time.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton and Spencer Dinwiddie are out due to injury. Tyler Johnson is in COVID protocol. Kyrie Irving is out on personal leave.

Michael Porter Jr is in COVID protocol and won’t be playing.

The game

This is the first night of a back-to-back for Brooklyn. They don’t have to travel far as they head to MSG to play the Knicks Wednesday.

Shaking that rust off. Kevin Durant is back after spending a week in COVID protocol and promptly scored 36 points and had Darius Bazley in the torture chamber. His threes weren’t falling, but that was to be expected as he was finding his groove. The Nets moved him back to the small forward spot and paired him with Jeff Green at the four. KD is a lock to give you 20 plus with excellent shooting every night and as he gets back into his groove, he’ll become even more difficult for opposing defenses. Jerami Grant would’ve been a good candidate to hassle KD, but he left for the Pistons in free agency so Will Barton and Gary Harris will take their turns guarding Durant.

For a team that’s been having their issues on the defensive end, you’d think that a guy like Bruce Brown would’ve gotten some more run on Sunday. To be fair to the Nets coaching staff, the Thunder came into the game as one of the worst offenses in the NBA so it was natural to try and go for a more offensive oriented starting five. However, when they started heating up and didn’t cool down, someone like Brown might’ve come in handy. The Nets are still trying to figure out who goes where and minutes distributions, so it’s gonna be bumpy for a while.

Speaking of defense, the Nets will have their hands full with Jamal Murray. Murray had a star turn in the bubble and his success will determine just how far Denver goes in the playoffs. He’s coming off a poor game in the Garden so he’ll be raring to go. Tonight would be perfect for Brown to get back into the rotation so he can help deter one of the game’s better guards.

With Irving out, I think Nash will have to make sure one of either Durant or Caris Levert is on the court at all times. Those two can be the centerpieces of the offense and allow for more opportunities for everyone else. I was gonna include Joe Harris and while his shot creation skills are better than he’s sometimes given credit for, his strengths lie elsewhere. The Nets bench has been a sore spot so far this season and having one of your best players running with them will open things up for them, lessen the pressure on them, and hopefully prevent opponents from going on backbreaking runs before reinforcements get back in.

Player to watch: Nikola Jokic

He’s such a joy to watch. He’s more than respectable from deep, is tough to move off of the post, and is one of the craftiest passers we’ve ever seen, regardless of position. Not to mention, the big fella is averaging a triple double! Jokic does everything right on the court and unlike last season, he isn’t facing any criticism for not being in tip top shape to begin the year. The big guy is the perfect player to build your franchise around and Nuggets fans will get to enjoy his game for the foreseeable future.

We talked about minutes distribution a while ago and on Sunday, Jarrett Allen got 33 minutes to DeAndre Jordan’s 10. If I had to guess, DJ figures to get more minutes tonight as the Nets look to contest Jokic as best they can.

From the Vault

In a David Bowie mood to start the day

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