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Nets come home to face Warriors in marquee matchup

Chicago Bulls v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Welcome home. The Brooklyn Nets have been out of town for the past few weeks as they embarked on a six game road trip. It was a successful one and they ended it with a great win on Sunday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was a historic trip as it was the third time in franchise history that they’ve won at least five games on a road trip.

The opponent tonight will be the Golden State Warriors. It’s been a minute, but Steve Kerr and friends are back near the top of the standings and hoping to stay there. Their four game road trip got off to a bumpy start with a loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.

Where to follow the game

TNT is the place to be on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30.

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton is out. Joe Harris had to leave Sunday’s game early due to an ankle injury. He’s out tonight. Paul Millsap is out due to personal reasons.

Klay Thompson is on the road to recovery, but won’t be out here tonight. James Wiseman is out as well. Gary Payton II is probable with a left knee contusion.

The game

When you go up against elite teams, your attention to detail takes on even more importance. Golden State is far and away the best defense in the league thus far and they do it by controlling the boards and getting out in transition after forcing turnovers. G-State is first in defensive efficiency and top five in both rebounding and turnovers forced, so if Brooklyn isn’t on their p’s and q’s, they could find themselves down a bunch in a hurry.

Not to be outdone, the Nets defense is doing what it needs to do as well. Brooklyn is tied with the Wizards for lowest opponent field goal percentage and are holding teams to only 31 percent from deep, good for second in the NBA. The shots will be hard to come by, but the Warriors will let em fly from deep early and often as they are second in the NBA in threes attempted at 42 a night. Get ready to run.

When we get regular season games with two of the best teams in the league, players tend to undersell it. One game out of 82, don’t put too much stock in this, etc etc etc. All that’s true, but damn it, I’m excited to watch this game and can’t wait to see these wonderful players go at it on the national TV stage. And we get to see those fly ass City Edition jerseys so it’s another win for the fans.

If Harris is out for a while, who will step up in his place? Early money is on Patty Mills, who made a career high nine three pointers off the bench on Sunday night. Mills had been struggling a bit recently, so him finding his shot like that could spell huge things for Brooklyn’s lineups. This might also lead to an opportunity for Cam Thomas. The rook has only played in garbage time, but might be called upon to contribute off the bench. We’ve talked about the Nets needing another player that can go downhill and break defenders down off the dribble. Maybe the rook can go on a nice run and make a bigger name for himself?

The Warriors rely on their depth and they’ve gotten excellent contributions out of Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, GP II, Andre Iguodala, and the rookie Jonathan Kuminga. Imagine how amazing they’re going to look when Klay gets back and is healthy.

Every team needs a guy like Draymond Green on it. He runs the offense well, is a quarterback on defense, can handle any assignment you give him, and makes winning plays when you need him to. You put him in games of consequence and he’ll deliver what you need. And he’s a natural heel which adds more spice and intensity to the game. We need more of that.

The world sure is a hell of a lot different for Andrew Wiggins now than it was in late September - early October. Luckily for BIG WIGG, he got himself COVID vaccinated and has been his usual reliable self. He’s taking more threes and has seen his three point efficiency dip some compared to last season, but he’s getting to the line more often and finishing well at the rim and has been an incredibly reliable scoring option.

Old Warriors nemesis James Harden will look to keep the party going. The former MVP had a great road trip, averaging close to 21 points, ten assists and eight rebounds on a .470/.386/.842 split. Harden is getting downhill a lot more and that pressure makes life hell on other teams. You can trust Harden to find his teammates in the right spot and now that he’s taking a few more catch and shoot threes than he’s used to, it adds a fun wrinkle to the Nets attack.

Player to watch: Steph Curry

The Western Conference Player of the Week is looking to put on a show for the Barclays Center crowd. After finishing third in the MVP vote last year, Curry has been even better and is looking as amazing as ever. He started off relatively slowly, but has been on fire ever since. He spoke about that recently and said:

“It follows the usual pattern of how I start seasons. A lot of it too is just staying aggressive, locked in on how I’m trying to get off on most nights, working through our system in offense and not really worrying about the output. It’s just about trying to find ways to win games and create momentum, and usually good things happen.”

Curry is second in the NBA in scoring at 28 points a night and has a shooting split of .442/.387/.955 in a shade under 34 minutes a night. Curry is everything you want in a franchise player as he takes on the pressure of being the top dog without complaint, fail and has brought his team back into title contention after a two year lull following the end of the dynasty. There was so much whining about how he was “ruining” basketball five years ago, which look even stupider in retrospect. Appreciate the greats while they’re still here.

And he’s doing this

We byke!

Not to be outdone, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week is looking to keep up the dominance on this side. Kevin Durant has been his usual amazing self and put forth another signature showing on Sunday against his former team in Oklahoma City. Even with a slight shoulder issue, KD scored 33 points on a silky smooth .529/.333/.929 shooting split Sunday. Durant leads the league in scoring at 29.6 points a night and has done everything the Nets have needed in order to succeed. You need him to score, he’s got you. Need him to make the right feed when he gets double teamed? It’s handled. When all else fails, turn to KD and he’ll save the day. Durant provides a sense of consistency and stability every time he’s on the court and is the early leader in the MVP race. Another amazing game against an elite team on the game of the week will add to his case.

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