Back to the lab. The Brooklyn Nets took on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in a marquee matchup. Things went to hell in the second half for the hometown guys and they got stomped out. Can’t dwell on it too much. Put yourself back on the map
The opponent tonight will be the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have been a heck of a lot better than what most of us anticipated this season and are looking solid to start the season. They took a tough loss at home to the Boston Celtics on Monday night. When this wraps up, they’re heading back home to face the Warriors. Good luck to them.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 7:30.
Nicolas Claxton and Joe Harris are out. Paul Millsap is out as well. And Kyrie Irving remains unvaccinated. So he’s out too.
Lauri Markkanen is in COVID protocols and out. Collin Sexton is out after a meniscal tear in his left knee. Lamar Stevens is out with a right ankle sprain. Jarrett Allen is out as he’s dealing with an illness. Evan Mobley sat out the final 11 minutes of Monday’s game with a right elbow sprain. He will be out for the next two to four weeks due to that injury. Kevin Love had been in COVID protocols, but is listed as probable for this one.
Efficiency Man is mortal after all! Kevin Durant started off strong last night, but wound up only going 6-19 from the field. It was the first time KD shot under 40 percent from the field this season and the first time he was held under 20 points. A lot of fans are hoping KD gets the night off to give his shoulder some extra rest, but Durant and Steve Nash mentioned the shoulder is fine enough. If he’s out there, KD will look to not rush his shots and get back in that winning groove.
With all the frontcourt injuries, Cedi Osman has stepped up. He’s played 20+ minutes in all but one game this month and has put up 13 points a night on a more than respectable .486/.418/.667 shooting split. If he can do anything similar once the big names return, then the Cavs may be able to compete for a playoff spot deep into the second half of the season.
In some good news yesterday, Asia Durr announced she’ll be coming back to basketball after two seasons away thanks to COVID-19. You love to see it.
The stars were out at Barclays Center last night
You love to see it.
The Nets couldn’t match the Warriors small ball attack last night, which meant LaMarcus Aldridge played a season low 9:28. With Cleveland’s frontcourt as battered as it is, this seems like a perfect night for the Nets to ride LMA and let him operate on the inside.
Darius Garland is going to be the Cavs’ source of offense. He’s taking more three pointers this season and is shooting 40.5 percent from downtown this year.
Doesn’t matter who you play, if you lose the rebound battle and turnover margin, you will lose. That’s a lesson the Nets need to remind themselves every day.
Night one without Joe Harris was rocky. Patty Mills was inserted into the starting five and made two three pointers in 31 minutes. Due to chasing around Steph Curry, DeAndre Bembry got a season high 30 minutes and looked pretty decent all things considered. Cam Thomas got a few non-garbage time minutes, but didn’t play well. Kessler Edwards made his NBA debut and acquitted himself reasonably well. Assuming Harris is out for a while, the Nets will need the rookies to make some contributions and getting them some real minutes with the vets would do them some good.
Isaac Okoro finally shot above 40 percent from the field for the first time since October, and it was a welcome development for the sophomore. Over at Fear the Sword, Jackson Flickinger wrote about Okoro and said:
Okoro is in the midst of a dreadful offensive stretch due to the limitations of his game and the personnel around him. He hasn’t shown to be comfortable creating for himself or others offensively and he isn’t a knockdown shooter. Dribble drives and cutting off-ball are what he’s best at now. Those ways of scoring aren’t present if you’re playing with two seven footers who can clog the lane. This has left Okoro as at best a bystander to the offense and at worst a detriment considering his cold shooting.
It is important to remain patient with Okoro. He’s shown exceptional potential on the defensive end and has had flashes of decent play offensively. At this point in his career Okoro is a guy who needs to be put in situations where he can succeed offensively for him to have a positive impact. That ideal spot isn’t in this starting lineup.
The Nets defense got a workout dealing with the cohesion and excellence of the Warriors, but luckily for them they’ll be facing a team that is in the bottom third in terms of offensive efficiency. The Cavs are 23rd in three point attempts and 18th in percentage.
Player to watch: Ricky Rubio
Rubio’s been around for what feels like forever, but he’s still only 31 years old. This is his fourth team in four years and with a young club such as this one, having a vet like Rubio will do them some good. He’s averaging almost seven assists a night and the Cavs are better when he’s on the court. You need good vets and a guy like Rubio is always someone you want on your side.
If there’s a positive you want to take from James Harden’s night, it’s that he went to the free throw line 11 times, making ten of them. He probably should’ve gotten a few more calls his way, but that’s the way it is right now. The Nets juggled their rotations a bit so Harden and the guys had to get used to a new combination on the court, so we’ll see what Nash and the staff does tonight. In a perfect world, everyone would have set roles and there would be more opportunities to fully develop rhythm, but this is the NBA and nobody’s gonna feel sorry for you. Gotta get up and do what you can to win.
From the Vault
If you’re like me, you’ll be at the Barclays Center on Thursday night to watch Mary J. Blige in concert! We can be here running through the MJB catalog, but I’ll drop a few for the road
More reading: Fear the Sword
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Cleveland Cavaliers Game Notes - Cleveland Cavaliers
- Cavaliers minus key players heading into matchup with Nets - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- Cleveland Cavaliers standout rookie Evan Mobley to miss approximately 2-4 weeks with right elbow sprain - Chris Feder - Cleveland Plain-Dealer