Not hittin’. The Brooklyn Nets rolled into H-Town hoping to put an end to the Houston Rockets’ six game winning streak. They got within a few possessions in the fourth quarter, but weren’t able to bring it all the way and wound up losing on Wednesday night. The L snapped their road winning streak and with two more games to go on this trip, they hope to get back on the good foot.
The opponent tonight will be the Atlanta Hawks. The runner up in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals is back and hoping to keep up the good vibes from last playoffs. They’ve been off since Monday night after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Where to follow the game
YES Network and ESPN on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30.
Joe Harris is out. Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge got Wednesday off to rest. They’ll be back tonight. Kyrie Irving will not be.
It was announced on Wednesday that Solomon Hill will miss the rest of the season after suffering a right hamstring tendon tear. Bogdan Bogdanovic is out. DeAndre Hunter is out. Onyeka Okongwu is out. Cam Reddish has been out, but might be making his return tonight. He’s listed as probable.
Brooklyn won game one in November.
You can live with a poor shooting night. You can even live with a high turnover night. You can’t live with both happening at the same time. That was James Harden’s evening in Houston as he struggled in his 39:19 of game time. For all the worries about the Nets offense, most of them would be solved if Harden played like a superstar on a more consistent basis.
With all the injuries up and down the Hawks roster, Danilo Gallinari has taken on a more important role this year. Gallo’s shooting percentages are down some and he dealt with injuries at the beginning of the season, but he’s been solid recently and a vet like him is always good to have.
Tonight might be a revenge game for an old friend of ours. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has started the last four games and made seven three pointers on Monday night. As Nets fans know and remember well, TLC sure ain’t shy about throwing up shots so if he’s open, he’ll let it fly.
With LaMarcus Aldridge back in the lineup, it’ll be interesting to see how the Nets handle their big rotation. Nicolas Claxton looked solid across both nights in Texas and the more he plays, the better he looks. Blake Griffin made his return to the rotation and looked pretty damn good in his 13 minutes. Paul Millsap had a decent game as well and was on the court for the fourth quarter comeback try.
The Nets will have their hands full with Clint Capela tonight. Capela is third in the NBA in rebounding, averaging almost 13 a night in his 30 minutes a night. As our Rockets fans friends will tell you, he’s a great pick and roll partner as his ability to run the floor and finish lobs makes him a super valuable big.
Look at the kids! David Duke Jr had a great outing as he was on the court for the entire fourth quarter and his energy on the defensive end helped the Nets get back into the game. He missed all three of his attempts from deep in the fourth quarter, but him developing his shot will take time. He probably won’t be playing tonight so Wednesday will definitely give him some extra pep in his step once he gets back with the Long Island Nets.
In WNBA news, the New York Liberty revealed their 2022 season schedule yesterday. Like the Atlanta Dream, NY will have a new head coach this spring. Former Liberty guard, Tanisha Wright, is coaching the Dream while the Liberty’s head coaching spot is to be determined.
It doesn’t feel like it with the Nets (especially now that Harris is out), but they are one of the better catch-and-shoot teams in the league this season. The Hawks are the best catch and shoot team from deep this season so the Nets’ defensive rotations will need to be extra sharp tonight or they run the risk of letting Nate McMillan’s guys get hot from deep.
Collectively, the Nets did a fantastic job guarding Trae Young in the first matchup. The Knicks nemesis had his worst shooting performance of the season as he only went 6-22 from the field in 37 minutes. Since then, Young has picked his game up a ton and has been averaging 28 points and nine assists on a .478/.429/.875 shooting split. With all the attention on Harden and his trips to the free throw line, Young has been affected by the increased physicality as he’s getting to the line at a career low rate. However, he’s been able to manage it well and has maintained his level of excellence. UPROXX’s Jackson Frank has more:
So, instead of wiggling his way into precarious situations as often, Young is embracing more jumpers off the bounce inside the arc. According to Synergy, his floater frequency has dropped from 35.7 percent last season to 27.2 percent this season. Meanwhile, per Cleaning The Glass, his frequency of shots between 14 feet and the three-point arc, classified as “long midrange,” has ballooned to a career-high 18 percent. His previous career-high, set last year, was 13 percent.
When the opposition parks in Capela’s orbit on the roll and abandons Young, he’s seamlessly firing and cashing open pull-ups. He’s shooting 52 percent on long midrange attempts, which ranks in the 85th percentile. Few players can sustain that level of efficiency, but the quality of looks he’s generating from those spots is quite encouraging.
The midrange is BACK!
Player to watch: John Collins
As the second best player on a title contender, Collins is taking to his role pretty darn well. As Peachtree Hoops noted, JC has continued to grow as a player and team leader. He’s averaging 17 points and almost eight rebounds on a super smooth .562/413/.783 shooting split. As the Hawks rise in the standings, having Collins playing well will get them back to where they need to be,
Even Efficiency Man needs a break every now and again. KD got the night off on Wednesday and will be back tonight. With Durant on the court, the Nets offense has the ability to get a good shot every time he touches the ball. With the super impressive play of Thomas on Wednesday, KD will have another solid shot maker alongside him tonight. As Brooklyn figures things out and overcomes the various injuries (and other things) getting in their way, having Durant playing well and carrying them to victory will make the team and fanbase’s lives a little bit easier. It’s what the doctor ordered.
From the Vault
We in ATL, so it’s only right we spend some time with The Human Highlight Film.
More reading: Peachtree Hoops
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Atlanta Hawks Game Notes - Atlanta Hawks
- Nets look for a return to normalcy vs. Hawks - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- Durant and Brooklyn visit Young and the Hawks - AP
- Nets have no shot to win NBA title without Kyrie Irving - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Nets’ new reality may be a diminished James Harden - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Nets’ David Duke Jr. impresses in NBA debut - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Nets may sit James Harden vs. Hawks after resting Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Rockets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- NBA MVP straw poll: Where 100 insiders think this race is headed - Tim Bontemps - ESPN
- STAT SURVEY: JAMES HARDEN, BROOKLYN NETS AMONG NBA ASSISTS LEADERS - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Hawks battling through injuries, with help from Luwawu-Cabarrot - Sarah K. Spencer - Atlanta Hawks