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Kevin Durant to rest as Nets visit OKC to take on Thunder

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Three the hard way. It took the Brooklyn Nets five extra minutes on Wednesday night, but they did what they needed to do and came away with a win against the Atlanta Hawks. The win was the team's third consecutive victory.

The opponent tonight will be the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC is hanging around and have been doing better than a lot of us expected. They helped their cause with a win against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8 PM.

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton and Spencer Dinwiddie are out. Newly signed Norvel Pelle won’t be available till Sunday vs. Washington. Kevin Durant (rest) was a late scratch.

George Hill, Ty Jerome, Trevor Ariza, and Josh Hall are out.

The game

The Thunder won the first meeting earlier this month.

The Nets left Atlanta, and it seems like the NBA is trying to bring every one down to the ATL. All Star voting is officially underway, and it seems like a really bad idea to play an exhibition game during the pandemic. Let these guys take a well earned week off.

Speaking of bad ideas, anybody wanna tell me what the hell the NBPA is doing?

For those who are unaware, Instacart recently fired employees that voted to unionize. I really don’t have patience for union busters these days, and for unions who ought to know better endorsing said union busters. I need the NBPA to get their heads out of their keisters and use some sense.

I came across this interview George Hill did with Marc Spears of the Undefeated, and this part stood out:

I stood for that change. For people to feel comfortable in their skin. To feel comfortable speaking the truth and standing for something. To go into these neighborhoods and go door to door and fight with the people of Wisconsin who really cared meant a lot. I talked to young men and young women who never voted in their lives on the importance of it. The importance of them using their voice and getting out and vote was the reason why Wisconsin was overturned this year.

I was very excited not only for myself, but for the state of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee and all the other surrounding cities. They saw things like that and they went out and voted. It meant something to them. It just wasn’t an election anymore.

Shouts to him.

With Norvel Pelle officially signed, the Nets have another big guy to utilize. He won’t be here tonight, but is expected to debut with the Nets on Sunday against the Washington Wizards. For now, DeAndre Jordan, Reggie Perry, and Jeff Green will man the middle for Steve Nash’s club. They’ll have their hands full with Al Horford. Horford was excellent in the first meeting and is back after being with his wife, who gave birth to a daughter last week. Horford brings a nice mix of passing, rim protection, and some scoring pop as well. Centers have feasted on Brooklyn’s frontcourt this year and if Jordan and friends can make life difficult for Horford, they can shut the water off of OKC’s offense.

Get riled up for the reunion. Kevin Durant is back in Oklahoma City, and it’s a city and arena he knows like the back of his hand. I remember he had a really interesting interview in 2019 with the Wall Street Journal about his time in OKC, life, etc and we wrote about it here. Back in the present, KD is playing like his MVP self and presents a matchup nightmare for his former team. He’s scored 20 plus in every game this season and is a sure bet to do it again tonight.

Shai Gilgeous Alexander is running the show this time around, and he’s taken well to the role. He’s got more offensive responsibilities as he’s scoring more and setting his teammates up for good looks. The Nets will throw defenders like Bruce Brown at him in order to slow him down and make things difficult. Brown has been a godsend as he brings a much needed mix of energy, perimeter defense, and good rebounding. I feel like I can be talked into Brown playing in a closing, smallball lineup at some point.

And of course, the game would’ve marked a return to OKC for three Nets, all of whom weren’t available to the Nets last year: Durant, James Harden and Jeff Green. The three were on the Thunder’s “Young & Restless” teams in the mid-2000’s. KD and Harden still get booed, but there are no fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena this season but maybe as an OKC columnist writes, it’s time to get over the hurt and appreciate what happened back then.

As Barry Tramell of The Oklahoman writes ... “So Friday night, watching from your sofa, don’t let anger boil during Thunder-Nets. Enjoy the game and enjoy the memories of the wonder years.”

Player to watch: Lu Dort

Of all the young Thunder that made names for themselves last year, Dort is probably the biggest shock of all. He went undrafted and wound up being one of OKC’s best players in the bubble. He’s doing more this season on offense and is one of the team’s best defenders. He’s only 21 and on a young team like this, being able to fully explore and expand his game will pay dividends in the long term.

Who will Dort defend? If I had to guess, it’ll be James Harden. Dort did a pretty decent job against Harden in the Thunder vs Rockets series in the bubble last summer. but not that Harden is surrounded by more firepower, it’ll make for a more difficult matchup for the Thunder. Harden has started to find his rhythm and is a bet to take over late. He’s been running the second unit and his playmaking makes life easy for everyone else on the roster.

From the Vault

We found out yesterday evening that Cicely Tyson passed away at the age of 96. Let’s take a trip back in time to see Ms. Tyson get her flowers

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