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Nets make a trip to MSG to take on Knicks

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Denver Nuggets v New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Well, go off then! The Brooklyn Nets were getting boxed around by the Denver Nuggets, but flipped the switch in the second half and came away with a MUCH needed win last night at Barclays.

The opponent tonight will be the New York Knicks. Our friends in Manhattan are playing hard, but the losses have started to pile back up. They lost on Monday night to the Charlotte Hornets and have lost three in a row after winning three in a row.

They’ve got two days off after this before hosting the Orlando Magic at Barclays on Saturday night.

Where to follow the game

The rare triple coverage night! YES Network, MSG, and ESPN on TV (I wonder which channel Mike Breen will be broadcasting from tonight?). WFAN 101.9 FM and ESPN 98.7 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, Tyler Johnson, and Kyrie Irving are out. Irving is still listed as out for “personal reasons” and as Sean Marks said in a statement Tuesday, “‘a date for his return has yet to be finalized.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant will play, the first time he’ll go back-to-back. “I plan on it,” said Durant.

Obi Toppin was upgraded Wednesday morning from out to questionable. Taj Gibson is alos now availability, Alec Burks, and Frank Ntilikina are out. Dennis Smith Jr has been dealing with a quad injury so he may not suit up. Reggie Bullock missed Monday’s game with a hip injury.

The game

I was all prepared to make fun of Tom Thibodeau playing his guys heavy regular season minutes as usual, but seriously, look at that injury report! The Knicks have been playing hard, but when you’re running short on guys, it’s only a matter of time before everyone runs out of gas.

In other news, you guys are pretty pissed at Kyrie Irving. He’s still out and appeared to spend some of his Tuesday evening at an organizing launch for Manhattan District Attorney candidate Tahanie Aboushi:

With that said and since we’re in Manhattan for this game tonight, y’all wanna hear me talk about why Cy Vance sucks so much? NO?!?!?!?!?! Only basketball talk? Ok, ok...

It’s funny how things shake out sometimes. For much of his time in NYC, Julius Randle has been getting hectored by Knicks fans for not being a good enough player to keep them competitive and respectable. He’s gotten off to a hell of a start this year and the team has some decisions to make this summer (or whenever the hell the offseason is gonna be), as BennyBuckets of Posting and Toasting notes:

Thibs seems to be a big fan of Randle (probably because he works hard and is actually good at basketball), so it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Knicks pick up his option for next season. After that, if the Knicks keep showing steady improvement, perhaps Leon Rose will look to lock Randle up long-term. Get used to Randle, but also be prepared for him to get traded at any minute. In fact, he’ll probably be traded the very second that you come to terms with the fact that he’s extremely talented.

Jeff Green has been inserted into the

Not to disrespect Mitchell Robinson, but I’m sure Jarrett Allen is glad to be going up against him after having to deal with Nikola Jokic last night. Allen had one of his worst games of the season as Jokic dominated Allen all night. DeAndre Jordan didn’t see the court last night so there’s a good chance he gets out there tonight and with Allen having played close to 36 minutes last night, DJ should get some burn. On the NYK side, Robinson is excellent in his own right and is one of their building blocks going forward. He’s springy, a good finisher at the rim, and only 22 years old. His minutes are up, which is due to Thibs of course and more importantly, he’s committing fewer fouls so far this season.

There’s a very good chance this game is gonna get sloppy. Both teams are in the bottom third of the NBA in turnover rate and with the Nets, a lot of the turnovers are of the incredibly sloppy variety. Brooklyn’s offense has been more good than bad this season, and if they managed to take better care of the ball, they’d be one of the NBA’s very best.

Just gonna say it like this: Bruce Brown needs to play every night. Steve Nash put him back in the starting lineup and he was fantastic on both sides of the ball, giving the team a much needed burst of energy and defense. If/when the Nets get closer to full strength, Brown would be a welcome addition to the rotation.

Last night, the Nets only allowed 46 points in the second half against the Nuggets. Their defense has been getting shredded for much of the year and being able to right the ship after a disastrous first half and final half against the Thunder could be a good sign going forward. They’ve gotta keep at it, though.

Player to watch: R.J. Barrett

My man Nekias Duncan tweeted this yesterday morning, and my mind is still blown:

Sheesh. In all honesty, we’ve really gotta cut him a lot of slack. He’s only 20 and in his second season, two pro seasons that have been shot to hell thanks to COVID running wild. I think for the Knicks and Knick fans, patience is the name of the game and they need to give him as many opportunities as possible to grow into the profession. He should be OK in the long term. That said, he’ll definitely help the cause by knocking down a three pointer here and there. 18 percent from three point range is pretty nasty.

Kevin Durant is hoping to play tonight after dominating the Nuggets last night. KD put up a 34/9/13 line in about 36 minutes. He committed seven turnovers, which is admittedly high, but he’s working to get comfortable seeing defensive traps again for the first time in a while and now that he’s taking more playmaking responsibilities with the back half of 7/11 out. If the Nets can jump out to a big lead, they can keep KD’s minutes on the low side while ensuring he inflicts maximum punishment on the Knicks. The Nets really have a top 20 player of all time on the squad. Still feels funny writing that sometimes.

From the Vault

Two birthday trips to the Vault! First up, we’re sending shouts out to Amerie

and secondly, let Mary J. Blige lift your spirits up

More reading: Posting and Toasting