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Nets try to bounce back against Jazz

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Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Gotta clean it up. The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to sneak away with a last second win, but couldn’t lock it down and suffered a disappointing loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday night. It was the team’s fourth loss in five games. Eek.

The opponent tonight will be the Utah Jazz. They’ve gotten off to a decent start and are the favorites to win the Northwest Division. They opened up their seven game road trip with a quality win in San Antonio against the Spurs on Sunday night. They won’t have to travel too far for their next game as they head over to MSG to play the Knicks as the second night of a back to back on Wednesday evening.

Where to follow the game

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


Spencer Dinwiddie underwent surgery to repair his partially torn ACL and is on the road to recovery. Nicolas Claxton is out. Kevin Durant is out as part of the league’s COVID-19 contact tracing protocol.

Our old friend Derrick Favors is probable with a sore right knee.

The game

How do you even go about replacing one of the greatest players in NBA history? For Steve Nash, that’s the question he’s going to have to try to figure out, and fast. The next two games figure to be big tests for his squad and if they can put W’s on the board against elite competition, it’ll go a long way to alleviating fears that have swept the fanbase.

Without Durant, more of the scoring load will fall on Kyrie Irving’s shoulders. Irving has been wonderful this season for Brooklyn and is likely to heat up at a moment’s notice. He and Durant became more vocal than what we’ve been used to so far this season on Sunday, and it’s a welcome change. With so little time to get acclimated and now that injuries and COVID have reared their ugly heads, having Irving be vocal and placing everyone in their right spots on offense and defense takes on even more importance.

Irving will have his hands full with Mike Conley tonight. Conley’s debut season in Salt Lake City was disastrous and the second run has been going much better. Conley is another solid ballhandler and shot creator and if he’s on top of his game, it helps

If you were ever looking for a night to get Bruce Brown some run, tonight would work. Donovan Mitchell is one of the more dynamic scorers in the league but is shooting career lows in all areas this season. He’s taking more three pointers and isn’t finishing at the rim in the ways Jazz fans are used to. This season is weird so when (if?) the Nets face the Jazz in the second half of the season, I think he’ll be back to his usual level of play.

Our old pal Bojan Bogdanovic had a breakout game on Sunday against the Spurs, but it had been a struggle for him up to that point. Mychal Lowman wrote this about Bogey’s early struggles on New Year’s Day:

Bojan Bogdanovic thus far looks not like Bojan Bogdanovic of last season. The wrist definitely is not 100% there and—even if it is—his 50-40-90 shooting appears 2-3 months away. In a condensed season, that’s the trade deadline. Bogey exploded against OKC after getting hit in the wrist, but afflicting Bogey every night with additional pain in his wrist is not a long term strategy any person with a soul wants to pursue. Right now when Bojan is on the floor, the Jazz’s offense is in the 38th percentile for points per 100 possessions and 67th percentile for points allowed per 100 possessions. It isn’t great.

If Utah wants to break into that top tier in the West, they’re going to need a healthy Bogdanovic to get them there.

One of the other big problems facing the Nets right now is their bench. Matt Brooks tweeted this out, and...

yeah, man. You’re not gonna get far if this keeps up. Maybe one fix for the Nets is getting another creative ball handler on the court with Caris Levert? He’s been in charge of running the second unit and it hasn’t been working well for him. They do have capable backup guards in Chris Chiozza and Tyler Johnson that could help with distributing so some of the workload can be taken off of Levert.

Player to watch: Rudy Gobert

So what do you do when you can’t shut your hater up? That’s the problem Rudy Gobert is currently dealing with after Shaquille O’Neal decided to be himself and hate on another center, as he often does. Arguing about Shaq is pointless, so we’ll just move on.

As you would expect with Gobert, the Jazz have managed to be beasts on the boards and at guarding the rim. Utah is second in the league in rebounding rate and has the third best opponent field goal percentage inside the restricted area. Digging down into Gobert, opponents are only shooting 38.7 percent when he’s been guarding them so far this season. You’re never gonna count on him to score for you, so as long as he continues to be an A+ defender, he’ll be fine.

The Nets are going against the second best rebounding team in the league, and theoretically, that means we’ll see a healthy dose of Jarrett Allen tonight. Allen has been one of the better players for Brooklyn this season, and has a fan in former Net Derrick Coleman:

“What I’ve seen is, I think we have two talented guys over there. Who’s the kid with the big afro? I love his energy. I love what he brings to the table. I don’t know why he’s not starting. And again, I think everybody’s trying to play small ball. Everybody can’t do that. Golden State showed they were really capable of doing that because they had shooters. They had guys that could pick and pop and shoot the ball. I think you need a big guy in there just to be that presence on the defensive end of the floor and to be able to communicate.”

The big guy’s been pretty good and hasn’t been getting into much foul trouble. Let him loose a little bit!

From the Vault

Since Shaq is getting on my nerves, why don’t we watch Karl Malone knock his Lakers around for a bit?

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