We’re stepping into the light. On a day when the Brooklyn Nets made the trade of a lifetime, they had to step on to the court shorthanded. With nine guys able to dress and on the back leg of a back-to-back, they took it to the New York Knicks and gave Brooklyn fans a win to wrap up a hectic day.
The opponent tonight will be the Orlando Magic. It’s been a better than expected season (6-6) for Steve Clifford’s injury-plagued squad and they hope to sneak back into the postseason this year. This is the second night of a back-to-back for the Magic. They got boxed around by the Celtics in Boston last night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio (WFAN is on NFL playoff duty). Tip off after 6:30.
Nicolas Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kyrie Irving are out. James Harden (!!!!!) is available after the Nets sweetened the four-team deal to compensate for an issue the Pacers found in Caris LeVert’s physical. Specifically, a Cavaliers 2024 second rounder — the only other asset acquired by the Nets in the deal— is now being redirected to Indiana. Marc Stein reports an undisclosed of cash considerations is heading from Brooklyn to Indiana.
Steve Nash wouldn’t say how many minutes he expects Harden to play but he will start...
“We don’t want to run down the batteries in our new Christmas present,” says Nash when asked how many minutes James Harden will play tonight. pic.twitter.com/MuWpBtOmo6— Barbara Barker (@meanbarb) January 16, 2021
Al-Farouq Aminu, Michael Carter Williams, Jonathan Issac, Evan Fournier, Mo Bamba, and Chuma Okeke are all out.
I wouldn’t blame anybody if they looked ahead to MLK Day. For the Nets, they’ve got a showcase game against the Milwaukee Bucks and might have their “Big Three” on full display. The league has always placed an emphasis on putting the best games on for MLK Day and Nets vs. Bucks promises to be a fascinating one.
Like the Nets, the Magic will be hooping on MLK Day. And just like Brooklyn, they’ll be in town as they head to MSG to play the Knicks. The Magic have a few more days on the road before heading back home.
We mentioned Orlando’s injuries above, and Garrett Townsend of Orlando Pinstriped Post lays out the devastating consequences to Orlando’s future:
The injured elephant in the room that we haven’t addressed yet is the hauntingly similar injury that has already sidelined Orlando’s other perceived young foundational piece, forward Jonathan Isaac. Alongside Fultz, this pair of talented youngsters were envisioned to be the duo that would one day help lead the Magic back to a state of genuine contention, a projection which would cruelly seem so far from reality at this current moment as to be an impossibility. Orlando now has somewhere in the vicinity of $130 million tied up in these two moving forward, a number that already carried some known risk that has since been only further amplified.
So, yeah... Kevin Durant is still really friggin’ good. Just thought I should say that. In all seriousness, KD looks like his old self and has been holding it down while Irving is out. He’s already impossible to defend and having Harden running alongside him creates a nightmare scenario for opposing defenses. Who does your best defender guard? If you put him on Harden, Durant is liable to drop 30+ on you. Have that defender guard KD, and Harden can go for 30+ while saddling your team in foul trouble. And that’s before we get into Irving when he gets back. It’s an impossible puzzle to solve, so we’ll see how teams counteract it
It feels like Aaron Gordon’s been around forever, but he’s only 25 years old. The high flyer is taking fewer shots inside the restricted area this year compared to last season, but he’s making the most out of his opportunities there (71.4 field goal percentage inside the restricted area). Jeff Green will be back at the four for Brooklyn and he’s done well this week in the starting lineup. He wasn’t doing well on the second unit, so his work in the starting five might compel Steve Nash to leave him there for the time being.
Player to watch: Nikola Vucevic
An old Nets nemesis is back in town. Vucevic has given the Nets plenty of trouble over the years as he’s cost them games with his scoring in the paint and work on the glass. He’s completed his transformation into a respectable three point shooter and is firing them up six times a night and making them at a 42.4 percent clip. Having a big man who can draw the other big man away from the basket opens everything up for your team and allows for less of a hassle at the rim.
DeAndre Jordan is gonna need to keep that same energy from here on out. DJ had his best game as a Net on Wednesday, putting up nine points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, and playing with a bundle of energy that will be a must every night out. Everyone wondered why DJ didn’t play the night before against Nikola Jokic, but little did we know that the Nets were working on shaking up the basketball universe.
When DJ hits the bench, Reggie Perry hopes to come in and build off of a career night. The rook played hard, helped spark the second unit and even hit a three pointer for his troubles. Perry may wind up being the odd man out as the Nets look to add size to the roster, but while he’s out there, he’ll look to keep making a name for himself.
From the Vault
I’m feeling good. Hope you are too
More reading: Orlando Pinstriped Post
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Orlando Magic Game Notes - Orlando Magic
- James Harden might make Nets debut vs. struggling Magic - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- James Harden on his relationship with Kevin Durant (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- James Harden on fitting in with team (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- Sean Marks reacts to the James Harden deal (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- Sean Marks on team’s response to James Harden trade (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- Championship or bust for Brooklyn? (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- After Frosty Houston Split, Harden Says He’s an ‘Elite Teammate’ - Sopan Deb - New York Times
- James Harden embracing ‘sacrifice’ to make Nets’ Big 3 work - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- James Harden’s one ‘regret’ on way to Nets’ big three - Greg Joyce - New York Post
- James Harden says the chance to compete for an NBA title led him to the Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- All James Harden wanted was a real chance, and in Brooklyn, he has one - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- All the tortured euphemisms the media are using to call James Harden fat - Dennis Young - New York Daily News
- James Harden thinks he can win with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant after Nets trade - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- James Harden: Wasn’t disrespectful with comments on Houston Rockets, ready for ‘new start’ with Brooklyn Nets - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- The five most fascinating things to watch in James Harden’s Nets debut - Kirk Goldsberry - ESPN
- Steve Nash reacts to James Harden trade, talks about how Big 3 will fit together - Ryan Morik - SNY
- Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal already critical of Nets trio - Nick Friar - USA Today
- The Nets got better with the James Harden trade. How much better is up to Kyrie Irving. - Jerry Brewer - Washington Post
- NETS VS. MAGIC: JAMES HARDEN POSSIBLE TO DEBUT FOR BROOKLYN - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- JAMES HARDEN READY FOR NEXT CHAPTER WITH BROOKLYN NETS - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Short-handed Orlando Magic fall to Boston Celtics - Roy Parry - Orlando Sentinel