Keep keepin’ on. The Brooklyn Nets are still shorthanded, but they don’t quit. They took on the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night and came away with their fourth straight win. They’re still on top of the Eastern Conference and their world is about to change in a major way.
The opponent tonight will be the Orlando Magic. It’s been another rough year for the Magic as they try to figure out where they are heading next. They were at home last night and lost to the Miami Heat.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 7:30 PM.
Kevin Durant has been dealing with a sore ankle all week but has carried the entire damn borough on his back. He’s out tonight and probably for a while after he too entered health and safety protocols Saturday afternoon. Joe Harris is out with a surgically repaired ankle.. Nic Claxton is out with left wrist soreness and just before game time, David Duke Jr is probable despite left hip soreness. Patty Mills was getting a rest day and was going to be out but duty called.
Kevin Durant, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bruce Brown, DeAndre Bembry, Jevon Carter, Paul Millsap, James Johnson and Day’Ron Sharpe are all in COVID protocols. Kyrie Irving isn’t here, but he’s been put into protocols as well after a positive COVID test. With the addition of Shaq Harrison and James Ennis III, the Nets have nine players available, 10 in protocols.
The following Magic players are also in COVID protocols: Mo Bamba, Ignas Brazdeikis, RJ Hampton, Mo Wagner, and Terrence Ross. Cole Anthony is out with a right ankle sprain. Michael Carter Williams is out with a left ankle injury. Markelle Fultz is out with a left knee injury. Jalen Suggs is out with a right thumb fracture. E’twan Moore is out with a left knee sprain. Gary Harris is dealing with left hamstring tightness. No clue if he plays tonight. Wendell Carter Jr had to be helped off the court in a wheelchair last night after suffering a knee injury. Hoping for the best for WCJ.
This is the first half of a back-to-back. The Nets are right back at it tomorrow night against the Denver Nuggets.
The Nets have some extra help coming in. On Thursday night, they signed James Ennis and Shaq Harrison to ten day contracts. One look at the injury report above tells you why having them here is important and the next week and change will be a great opportunity to make things happen for them.
Like the Nets and a bunch of other teams, COVID has been kicking the Magic’s asses this week. They’ve got nine players tonight and are just trying to hope things don’t get worse from here.
Blake Griffin was reinserted into the rotation on Sunday and has made the absolute most of it. BG scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter vs. the 76ers, including a crucial three pointer in the final two minutes that helped knock Philly out. Griffin’s ability to come back and contribute after being out of the rotation speaks to his game and professionalism. It would’ve been easy to sulk and let yourself slip once you lost your spot. However, BG kept at it, stayed ready, and will create a fun question for Steve Nash and the coaching staff once everyone is back. Sounds like one of them good problems.
Robin Lopez will be wrestling with the Brooklyn bigs tonight. 14 seasons in and RoLo is still a good veteran hand and solid vet to have on your club. And he’s still an enemy to mascots everywhere, so if there were ever a time for the Brooklyn Knight to make their return, tonight would not be the night.
Player to watch: Franz Wagner
Being a rookie is difficult enough. Being a rookie amidst all the chaos in this current NBA season is even more challenging. Despite that, Wagner has been solid and looks like one of the building blocks to a possibly sunny Magic future. Over at Orlando Pinstriped Post, Garrett Townsend wrote the following:
A closer inspection of Wagner’s play reveals a number of reasons for long-term optimism. There’s a general fluidity evident in his game, particularly when navigating pick-and-roll sequences, that seemingly bodes well for his offensive impact moving forward. As a long 6-10 (6-11?) forward he’s got the height to see over the majority of his direct opponents, a physical trait that opens up passing opportunities that simply don’t exist for all players. He’s also seemingly able to pair the natural advantage of his height with insightful and incisive peripheral vision, evidenced in the passes he’s able to frequently execute with nary a turn of his head. Already he might be the Magic’s best at whipping the ball through traffic to wide open teammates while on the run.
The combination of Wagner’s positional length and the smoothness of his movement also helps when it comes to scoring the ball. For a first-year player he has been able to flash a well-developed capacity to navigate the seams created by screening teammates, with a variance of both pace and stride length contributing to his ability to separate from would-be defenders. In fact, it’s this footwork that perhaps stands out most about his activity when he slices through the lane; the rookie might not have a prototypical euro-step in his arsenal, but there’s enough misdirection and uncertainty evident in his gait that opponents have a difficult time effectively staying in front of him.
Wagner had a pretty solid game last night and is hoping to put another good one up tonight.
Tonight will be a nice test for Cam Thomas. With Mills and Durant out, he’s a sure bet to be in the starting lineup. He had a solid night against the 76ers off the bench with 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists in 25 minutes. Thomas gives the Nets another player that can get downhill and wreak havoc on defenders. As the roster changes, his role will inevitably change. However, he’s done enough to ensure that he still has a spot in the rotation once the big guns get back.
From the Vault
Yesterday, Big Boi and Sleepy Brown released “Big Sleepover.” With that in mind, let’s take it back to one of their best collaborations
More reading: Orlando Pinstriped Post
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Orlando Magic Game Notes - Orlando Magic
- Without Kevin Durant, Nets meet Magic in matchup of shorthanded teams - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- Orlando visits Brooklyn, aims to stop road skid - AP
- Kevin Durant to sit out Nets’ clash with Magic due to sore ankle - Peter Botte - New York Post
- Inside the conversations and circumstances that fueled the Nets’ reunion with Kyrie Irving - Brian Lewis - New York Post Sports+
- Kyrie Irving’s return about winning, not politics: Nets owner Joe Tsai - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving making stunning Nets return - Peter Botte - New York Post
- How will Kyrie Irving’s part-time return impact the Nets? - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Kyrie Irving to join Nets for games, practices in which he’s eligible to bolster depleted roster - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Young Nets have made major contributions in face of adversity - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Kyrie Irving return to Nets as part-time player reeks of negligence - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kevin Durant’s minutes even more of a concern amid latest COVID-19 wave - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kevin Durant is the best basketball player New York has ever had - Mike Lupica - New York Daily News
- In Reversal, Nets Will Allow Kyrie Irving to Play Part Time - Sopan Deb - New York Times
- Nets bringing back Kyrie Irving to play in road games - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Sources: Broo klyn Nets to bring back Kyrie Irving for road games - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN
- How Kyrie Irving can help the Brooklyn Nets as a part-time player - Kevin Pelton - ESPN+
- Sources: Nets players expect Kyrie to return in near future - Ryan Morik - SNY
- Magic sign 4 players ahead of home loss to Heat after 4 more Orlando players enter health and safety protocols - Khobi Price - Orlando Sentinel