Through it all, we move. On a long, long day for the Brooklyn Nets, they somehow managed to overcome it all. Playing with only eight players and needing overtime, they were able to outlast the Toronto Raptors and come away with an amazing win on Tuesday night in front of a raucous crowd at the Clays. The Nets are still on top of the Eastern Conference.
The opponent tonight will be the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s been a bumpy year for Doc Rivers and friends, but they’re doing their best to hang tough. They were down big last night to the Miami Heat, fought all the way back to tie it up late, but ultimately fell short.
Where to follow the game
YES Network for locals, NBATV for the out of town crowd. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 7:30 PM.
Joe Harris is out with his ankle injury. And deep breath...
The following players are in the health and safety protocols: LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Bembry, Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, James Harden, James Johnson, and Paul Millsap. Not to be outdone, a “couple” of assistant coaches and a “couple” of staffers are in protocols as well, per Steve Nash. And it could get worse. Testing is now a daily thing.
The Nets can sign up to five players on 10-day contracts under the NBA’s hardship exception rule. On Thursday, they announced the signing of Langston Galloway, the veteran shooting guard.
Seth Curry has been dealing with right shoulder soreness recently, but he played last night and will likely be here. Joel Embiid has been dealing with right rib soreness, but played last night. He took a nasty fall late in the fourth quarter, but was able to walk it off. No clue on if he plays as well. Georges Niang is in COVID protocols
Brooklyn won the first game in October.
The Nets have some help coming in. With most of the roster dealing with COVID protocols, the team signed free agent guard Langston Galloway yesterday. Galloway will immediately give the Nets another ballhandler and a decent three point shooter. And perhaps most importantly, it gives them another player on the roster so the current guys don’t burn out from all the heavy lifting they’re gonna have to do.
The kids made it happen. The Nets played four rookies, and they all stepped up to the challenge. Kessler Edwards made his NBA debut and made big shot after big shot as the Nets fought back in the fourth quarter. We’ve talked about Brooklyn’s three point struggles since the Harris injury, and if Edwards can stay hot over the next couple of games, he’ll unlock some much needed spacing for the Nets. Cam Thomas struggled a bit, but he’s been playing well as of late. Day’ron Sharpe was a beast on the boards and had some nice finishes at the rim. And last but certainly not least, David Duke Jr. was all over the court and hit two crucial free throws (the first two attempts of his NBA career!) to seal the win. Wins are win, but when the kids excel in the ways that they did, it feels extra special.
Ben Simmons still ain’t coming to work, so all we’re left to do is speculate.
ESPN’s LaChina Robinson spoke with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and former New York Liberty All Star, Becky Hammon, and Robinson asked Hammon if she’d be interested in taking the open Liberty job. Here’s how she answered:
I asked @BeckyHammon about the @nyliberty head coach opening & she replied that her doors are open & don’t be surprised if she makes a return to the women’s game.— LaChina Robinson (@LaChinaRobinson) December 15, 2021
No woman has coached as many #NBA games & played in as many #WNBA games as Becky so this perspective is invaluable. pic.twitter.com/KnCsjQpUwr
Doc Rivers made an interesting change to the lineup. Danny Green was recently moved to the bench in favor of Matisse Thybulle. It’s a curious decision as you would think the 76ers would look to maximize the spacing and three point shooting Green provides with the starting five, but we’ll see how that goes. Thybulle makes the most impact on defense and he’s starting to get some early Defensive Player of the Year hype.
The Nets big man rotation will have their hands full tonight. Joel Embiid has been a thorn in the Nets’ side for years and the 76ers star figures to be the center of attention tonight if he plays. He’s a battering ram and foul drawing machine on the inside, but Brooklyn is hoping he falls in love with the jump shot tonight. In looking at the shot chart from last night’s game, he didn’t take any shots near the rim after halftime. He wound up going 5-13 on the night, so major props have to be given to the shorthanded Miami Heat defense.
Blake Griffin was back in the rotation and was incredibly impressive. BG was all over the place as he helped initiate the offense, played great defense and energized the crowd with his hustle and hard work. Naturally, when you’re in the Blue Collar Boys, you’re down to get down and dirty.
Nic Claxton started and he was excellent as well. He didn’t play much down the stretch, but while he was on the court, he was great. Clax can handle switches, be an effective rim runner, and protects the basket. He, Griffin, and Sharpe will get turns battling with Embiid and Andre Drummond on the boards tonight.
Even with the short rotation, it might help the Nets if they upped the tempo tonight. Philly plays at the slowest pace in the NBA and with them being on the second leg of a back-to-back combined with all the energy they had to exert in making their comeback, they might be on tired legs tonight.
Tyrese Maxey has made the most of Simmons’ absence. His role in the offense has changed as he’s taking more shot attempts and getting to the free throw line more often. The 76ers need all the shot creation they can get and if Maxey continues to play well, it will help make them a difficult out come playoff time.
Patty Mills was the hero of the night for Brooklyn. He scored 31 points and hit the shot of the night
.@Patty_Mills FORCES OT pic.twitter.com/9PpZNZ8pyS— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 15, 2021
Mills has been everything you could ask for and with him playing well and helping to mentor the kids, will provide the Nets with even more teamwork and leadership as they continue the world tour.
Player to watch: Tobias Harris
The thing that’s been true about Harris for the longest time is that he’s a good player to have on your team, but he can’t be one of the top usage guys if you want to be one of the best teams in the league. As your third option, you can work with it. As your second, ehhhhhhhhh. His three point shooting has fallen off a cliff and is the worst it’s been since the 2013-2014 season with the Orlando Magic. Rivers and the 76ers coaching staff will have to figure out how to get the most out of Harris and
What can you say, the man is next level. Kevin Durant was dealing with a sore ankle, but toughed it out and played 48 of 53 minutes on Tuesday against the Raps. How did he do? Oh, just a triple double! KD has done everything you could ask for as a teammate, team leader, and face of the franchise since he’s come to the Nets. And as the Nets try to weather the COVID storm, having Durant maintain his level of excellence will always keep the Nets competitive. KD running with the kids should make for another exciting night of basketball.
From the Vault
Yesterday, it was announced that professor, author, and scholar bell hooks had passed away. With that in mind, let’s take it back to 2013 and a public conversation she had with Melissa Harris-Perry.
More reading: Liberty Ballers
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Philadelphia 76ers Game Notes - Philadelphia 76ers
- COVID-thinned Nets look to keep rolling vs. Sixers - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- Nets play the 76ers on 3-game win streak - AP
- Nets signing ex-Knick Langston Galloway to aid COVID-strapped roster - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Kevin Durant continues to neutralize short-handed Nets’ weakness - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Kevin Durant’s MVP-worthy season may not be enough for the Nets unless he gets some help - Peter Botte - New York Post Sports+
- Nets owner Joe Tsai: ‘I love the kids’ - Anthony Rieber - Newsday
- Optimism isn’t bringing Kyrie Irving back to Barclays Center court - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- NBA’s new foul guidelines: How players such as Trae Young and James Harden have adapted - Brian Windhorst - ESPN+
- STAT SURVEY: KEVIN DURANT LEADS NBA IN SCORING - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Doc Rivers doesn’t have an ideal hand, but he needs to figure out how to play it - David Murphy - Philadelphia Inquirer