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Nets close out road trip in Detroit vs. Pistons

Washington Wizards v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

Do you wanna bump and slump with us? We the type of people make the club get crunk. The Brooklyn Nets stayed in the south and took on the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. Brooklyn turned things up in the fourth quarter and came away with an impressive eight point win on Friday night. This is the last stop on their four game road trip before coming back home to the clays.

The opponent tonight will be the Detroit Pistons. Duane Casey’s guys are still rebuilding, and like all rebuilds, they’re taking their fair share of lumps. The Pistons took their 11th straight loss on Friday night, this time at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans by 14 points.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 6 PM.

Injuries

Joe Harris is out. James Harden is getting a rest day so he’s out tonight. Paul Millsap is out due to personal reasons.

Kelly Olynyk is out with an MCL sprain. Jerami Grant is out with a right thumb sprain. It was reported last night that he suffered torn ligaments in the thumb and will be out indefinitely. Isaiah Livers is questionable as he returns to action.

The game

Brooklyn took game one in October and game two in November. They close out the season series in late March.

Look at this dude, man...

At a certain point, you just run out of words to describe how immaculate Kevin Durant has been this season. KD has controlled the game in all aspects this season and has kept the Nets afloat amidst all the chaos surrounding them. As the Nets continue to develop a rhythm, figure out rotations

Also this

A night off will do Harden some good. He’s currently eighth in total minutes and sixth in minutes per game. With Harden out for the first time this year, how will the Nets replace what he brings to the table? Patty Mills will get more of the ballhandling duties tonight and it’s a good bet Jevon Carter will see some more playing time as well. David Duke Jr played well against the Rockets and should get another chance on the court tonight.

For the first time in a long time, there’s a championship feeling in the tri state area

Congrats to NYCFC.

What can the Pistons do without their best player? Now that Grant is out indefinitely, maybe Sadiq Bey takes on some more offensive responsibility? Of the healthy Pistons left, he is third in usage rate, but has struggled massively. His three point percentage is down eight percent from last season and while he’s getting to the cup a bit more, is shooting nine percent worse inside of three feet. Not to mention that his free throw percentage has dipped as well. The Pistons are going to need everyone to step it up and that starts with Bey.

One thing the Nets will have to be mindful of is their turnovers. Detroit is fifth in opponent’s turnover rate and for a team that has been struggling the past few weeks and is desperate for a W, easy transition baskets will get them and the crowd into it and keep them in the game. The Nets can’t afford to look past them and need to put a good effort forth if they want to win. If Detroit does get out and run, it’s a good bet Killian Hayes will make it happen, as Bryce Simon of Detroit Bad Boys points out:

The one area of the Pistons offense I would like to see Hayes get his hands on the ball just a little bit more is in transition. I think it would be fair to say that Killian is the best on the team at getting his eyes up as soon as he gets the ball and putting pressure on the defense by kicking the ball ahead. I also like his understanding of sending the ball across the court and the amount of pressure that can put on a defensive transition as well.

With Millsap out, it’s a good bet Blake Griffin makes an appearance. BG played on Wednesday and was pretty impressive in his return to action. Brooklyn can also use another playmaker with Harden getting the night off and Griffin can orchestrate the offense some from the elbows.

And coming out of the bullpen, Nic Claxton! Clax came on in the second half and rode with the closing lineup on the way to victory. His defense on Trae Young helped stifle the Hawks offense and his size helped the Nets on the boards. Our own Lucas Kaplan made this observation about the big fella:

But the Nets simply look like a different team when he is buzzing around the court, as he has been on this current road trip. Again, it’s not just the individual defense or rim-running. He’s created eight total offensive rebounding opportunities in the last three games, if you (rightfully) include him getting fouled. That includes the monster putback dunk in transition in Atlanta, when he beat nearly everyone down the floor from behind the opposite baseline. Could he have done that in the physical state he was in to start the season?

Claxton will be key to Brooklyn’s chances now and in the future.

Player to watch: Cade Cunningham

The number one pick is starting to find his rhythm. Since we last saw Cunningham, he has averaged around 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists on a .408/.345/.815 across 16 games. With Grant out, the rookie will have a lot more on his plate. It’s a huge, huge ask for a young kid against a championship caliber team, but that’s where Cunningham finds himself right now. Iron sharpens iron so the kid will

Brooklyn’s rookie took a major step this week. Cam Thomas was part of the closing lineups Wednesday and Friday night for the Nets. Thomas provides the Nets with another scoring option and perhaps most importantly, someone else that can go downhill and create rim pressure. That’s something the Nets have been missing this season and as Thomas continues to soak up game from the Hall of Famers he’s around and gets meaningful playing time, he will be someone that will keep Nets fans excited for many years to come.

From the Vault

Nothing like a star rookie to give you hope and charge up the fanbase

More reading: Detroit Bad Boys