UPDATE: THE NBA HAS POSTPONED TONIGHT’S GAME BETWEEN THE NETS AND NUGGETS AT BARCLAYS CENTER DUE TO NUMBER OF PLAYERS IN HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS
Never a dull day around these parts. In a chaotic day, the Brooklyn Nets played a basketball game against the similarly COVID decimated Orlando Magic. The Nets fought back to tie it up late, but fell a bit short and lost last night. They’re still in first place and with the rest of the Eastern Conference dealing with various issues, they have a bit of a cushion to weather this storm.
The opponent tonight will be the Denver Nuggets. Injuries have wreaked havoc on them, but Michael Malone and friends are hanging tough. They were on the road Friday night and obliterated the Atlanta Hawks.
Where to follow the game
YES Network for the locals. NBATV for the out of towners. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 7:30.
We can add Kevin Durant and Day’Ron Sharpe to the health and safety protocols party. They will be joining James Harden, DeAndre Bembry, Jevon Carter, Bruce Brown, LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson, and Paul Millsap. Joe Harris is out with his knee injury. Nic Claxton is dealing with a wrist injury that caused him to miss last night’s game, and his status for this one is up in the air. Kyrie Irving is... yeah, there’s a lot going on. Patty Mills was supposed to get a day off last night, and he might get it tonight. Blake Griffin felt his knee tighten in the second half last night and typically doesn’t play back to backs. We’ll see.
Jamal Murray is continuing to recover from his knee surgery. He’s out. Michael Porter Jr was already out due to his back injury, and he has COVID as well. Markus Howard is out with a knee sprain. JaMychal Green is dealing with an ankle injury and is doubtful. PJ Dozier is out with a torn ACL. Bol Bol is in health and safety protocols.
Get riled up for the reunion! Jeff Green is back in town and as one of the fan favorites from last season, will get a nice hand from Nets fans at Barclays. Uncle Jeff was inserted into the starting five in early November, and has been great in his role. He’s playing 30 minutes a night and has a .523/.400/.860 shooting split as a starter. It’s always great to see one of our favs prospering.
When you’re young, you feel as if you can do anything you put your mind to. As Gabe Bridgford of Denver Stiffs notes, that confidence has helped Bones Hyland juice up a struggling Nuggets offense:
Bones Hyland very well might be the most confident player on the Nuggets. It doesn’t matter the game time or situation. When this guy sees the rim, he thinks he’s open. In the late November matchup with the Miami Heat, he made four different 3-point shots from 26 feet or further away from the rim. That isn’t something that just anybody is doing. He still gets out of control at times, and he can be a little overzealous when hunting his shot. However, he fits into the offense well no matter who else is on the floor. Hyland can create his own shot, but he doesn’t need to. With his range, he spaces the floor out so much, and that opens up other space. On this shot, he could attempt the 3-pointer from the wing, but he sees an even better look in front of him when the defender flies by. There are minutes available for Hyland, and he needs to get them to help boost this offense.
Shoot your shot!
Cam Thomas started strong, but had an eh night shooting the ball. Even with that, this upcoming stretch will be a valuable lesson for him as he continues to grow into his role as an NBA player.
There was a time when Nets fans cooked up every trade combination possible to get Aaron Gordon to Brooklyn. Those days have long passed as AG is now entrenched in Denver. He does a little bit of everything and theoretically, would’ve been the fourth best player on a title contender with Porter Jr. and Murray in the lineup.
David Duke Jr should be in the rotation when everyone gets back. He had a star turn last night and almost singlehandedly got the Nets back into the game in the fourth. DDJ is a ball of energy and championship caliber teams need guys like that to bring that spark every night. The Nets have a few players like that, so one more never hurts.
Player to watch: Nikola Jokic
The reigning MVP has had to carry the entire franchise on his back, and he’s been playing at a level similar to last year. He can score, is a maestro running the Nuggets offense, and He’s found himself in the spot where superstars eventually find themselves as they try to figure out whether they should shoot more or set up their teammates. Over at Denver Stiffs, Ryan Blackburn advocates for the Joker to be a bit more selfish. He writes:
But here’s the crux of it: Jokić has to be selfish. He has to be at his apex level on the offensive end, and sometimes, that means taking more shots, making more plays for himself, and looking off teammates on occasion. Teams know that if they double Jokić, he’s wired to make the right play every single time. That works while the rest of the team is making shots, and the Nuggets shot 39.9% from three on their road trip. That’s pretty damn good. Jokić being unselfish stops working when the shooting dries up though, and there were clear instances of that on the trip as well. Denver shot 29.4% from three against the Magic and lost. They shot 34.4% against the Bulls and lost. They shot 28.1% from three against the Pels, and the only reason they won was because Jokić scored a bazillion points down the stretch as the Nuggets kept force-feeding him looks to score. Jokić has to be willing to take over, because if he’s not scoring, the Nuggets generally aren’t winning.
I can get jiggy with this. When your team is decimated and your top dog is here, let him take all they can handle and climb on their shoulders as they lead you to victory.
With Nicolas Claxton dealing with a sore wrist, Sharpe in COVID protocols, and Griffin maybe sitting out, maybe Wenyen Gabriel will be the big? Either him or Kessler Edwards. Honestly, even if they had a full squad, dealing with Jokic would be hard as hell. Now that they’re shorthanded, things might look even more dire. Stranger things have happened so maybe the Nets can shut the big guy down?
From the Vault
Let’s revisit Uncle Jeff’s finest hour as a member of the Nets
More reading: Denver Stiffs
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Denver Nuggets Game Notes - Denver Nuggets
- Undermanned Nets welcome Nikola Jokic, Nuggets - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- Nuggets’ Austin Rivers shares COVID story as NBA grapples with spiking cases: “It’s getting a little bit out of hand” - Mike Singer