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Nets try to bounce back vs. Pacers

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers Photo by A.J. Mast/NBAE via Getty Images

Gotta take what’s yours. The Brooklyn Nets played a back and forth contest against the Miami Heat throughout much of the game on Wednesday, but weren’t able to bring it all the way and suffered a 13 point defeat as a result at the Clays. Two more games to go on the homestand before they hit the road.

The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Pacers. It’s been a rocky start for new old coach Rick Carlisle and his guys this season. They took a tough loss on the road Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors and are 1-4 on the season.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton was out for a non-COVID illness on Wednesday. He’s listed as questionable.

Our old friend Caris Levert is working his way back from a stress fracture in his lower back. He’s listed as questionable, but isn’t expected back this week. TJ Warren is still out with a left navicular fracture. Kelan Martin is out with a left hamstring strain. Malcolm Brogdon left Wednesday’s game with a sore hamstring. He’s out. Isaiah Jackson had to leave Wednesday’s game due to injury as well. Coach Carlisle said he’s going to be out for a while.

The game

The focus coming out of the game was James Harden, and with good reason. 14/7/7 on 4-12 shooting isn’t much to write home bout, but he did appear to be more aggressive getting to the basket at times. He was breaking defenders down off the dribble and trying to drive more, but there was still that indecisiveness of trying to pass too much as compared to getting his shot. Afterwards, Steve Nash had this to say:

“I think James is showing signs of getting his rhythm back. Like I keep saying, it’s not an easy process, so it’s going to take him some time and we have to be patient with him. But he definitely had some incredible stretches tonight to build on.”

That starts with him finding his rhythm and playing his way back into MVP form and shape. It’s a bit rocky right now, but he’s getting there bit by bit.

Injuries are never good for business (ask the Nets how true that is), and for a team that underwent a big change in the coaching ranks last summer, it’s even more painful. The Pacers had the season from hell last year, which led to them getting rid of Nate Bjorkgren and bringing back Rick Carlisle. I didn’t realize it until I looked it up, but TJ Warren has only played four games since his amazing 2020 bubble run. Hopefully the team is back to full strength soon.

We saw some history on Wednesday night. Joe Harris became the all time franchise leader in three pointers made, surpassing Jason Kidd. It’s a fantastic accomplishment for a guy that’s managed to really make a name for himself with this franchise. As Bomani Jones pointed out, the Nets as a franchise typically don’t have guys that stay here for long stretches, so Harris achieving a feat like this speaks to his longevity with this franchise. Shouts to him.

We’ve been talking about the Nets rebounding woes for a minute, and it reared its ugly head again on Wednesday. On the season so far, Brooklyn is 28th in rebounding percentage. Indy is eighth in offensive rebounding rate, and if the Nets can’t do better on the boards, they’ll be setting themselves up for even more trouble.

One source of trouble for Brooklyn tonight will be Domantas Sabonis. The 2021 All Star has taken a slight step back in usage on offense five games in, but he’s been on fire. The big guy is shooting .636/.400/.750 from the field in 39 minutes a night.

Any bit of scoring Bruce Brown gives feels like extra credit. He brings such an energy and passion when he’s on the court and he needs to be out there for as long as possible.

It tracks with everything we’ve been watching so far, but Kevin Durant is shooting a career best 54.8 percent from the field in the first five games and is practically automatic any time he gets the ball in the midrange. He hasn’t been cashing in his threes and free throws at the clips we’re used to, but those are the tiniest nits in the world to pick at with how sensational he’s been so far. He gives Brooklyn a chance every time he’s on the court.

Player to watch: Myles Turner

The other big problem facing the Nets is Turner. If there’s anything that might serve as a saving grace for Brooklyn is that Turner is a bit further from the basket this year as his average shot distance is a touch over 16 feet. He has offensive talent, but defense is his calling card. Turner is one of the best rim protectors in basketball and for a team like the Nets that has had issues attacking downhill, Turner will prove to be a difficult problem to solve.

The center position might be the second biggest question facing the available Nets right now. Claxton was out on Wednesday so big duties went to Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Paul Millsap. Aldridge didn’t get much burn and the P&R combo between he and Harden needs more time to iron things out, but LMA did have a few nice possessions guarding Bam Adebayo. We'll see how the coaching staff decides to spread the minutes tonight.

From the Vault

“My mind was fine til the dough hit it, and told me that the Mo did it”

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