Groovy. After embarrassing themselves in Detroit the night before, the Brooklyn Nets came back home with something to prove against the Indiana Pacers. Brooklyn put together one of their most dominant performances of the season and came away with a not as close as the final score indicates victory on Wednesday night. That was the last home game for the Nets in a while as they’ll be on the West Coast for a nice little bit.
The opponent tonight will be the Golden State Warriors. While they’re not on top of the world like they once were, they’re still a fun watch and are a good bet to get back into the playoffs. They’ve on a two game winning streak after beating the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.
Where to follow the game
It's a primetime affair as ABC will be broadcasting this one on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM takes it on radio. Party gets started after 8:30. Of the five games on the Nets’ West Coast trip, four are on national tv!
Iman Shumpert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Nicolas Claxton are out with injuries. DeAndre Jordan is out for personal reasons. He may join the team on the trip.
James Wiseman is out with a wrist injury. Marquese Chriss is out. Kevon Looney is out. And Klay Thompson is out as well.
Brooklyn won the first meeting on Opening Night. It was a new era that night, so now it’s a newer era? It makes sense, trust me.
We didn’t see Draymond Green in the first meeting, but he’s here now and he’s been doing his usual thing. He doesn’t score at all and is an absolute non-factor from 3-point range, but he still does an amazing job of initiating the offense, guiding his teammates on where they need to be, and playing rock-solid defense. Green is one of those “the numbers don’t tell the whole story” type of players, and when he’s fully engaged, is still a huge difference maker. Although...
Not how they drew it up pic.twitter.com/QVKbIGEMUx— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 9, 2021
It would’ve been helpful if Steve Kerr told everyone beforehand the Spurs don’t foul in that situation. Gotta save your man from catching unnecessary L’s.
Sometimes, I have to remind myself that as a fan, as much as I want to see a player turn all the way up, teams have to be mindful of the workload they’re carrying. So while I initially wanted to pull my hair out when I saw this Steve Kerr, honestly, he’s right:
“I’m into the long game. We’re counting on having Steph here a long time, many years ahead. And I’m not interested in grinding through this season, which is already a difficult season given the COVID regulations, just the nature of the games themselves, these eerie, empty stadiums.
“For me, for our organization, we’re not throwing Steph out there for 40 minutes to chase wins. We got another game [Tuesday]. We want Steph to be playing at a high level for many years, so we’re going to stay very disciplined and try to keep him at that 34-, 35-minute mark.”
Now that that’s out the way, let’s get to stanning Steph Curry! After a slow start, the former two time MVP is back raising hell in the ways he knows best. He’s averaging a smooth 30 points a night on a .490/.435/.930 shooting split. His range is unlimited and creativity endless, which makes him an impossible opponent to defend. It sometimes doesn’t feel like it, but he’s been in the NBA 12 seasons now.
He'll be going up against a familiar foe in Kyrie Irving. Irving was amazing against the Pacers Wednesday night and as Warriors fans know all too well, Irving is someone that can takeover and hit crucial shots late when it's a close game.
With the exception of LeBron James (and okay, Kyrie Irving), James Harden was probably the biggest thorn in the Warriors side during their dynastic run. As a Rocket, Harden would have his big moments and was part of the only Western Conference team to push the Hamptons Five (god that nickname sucked) Warriors to seven games in 2018. Harden has been more of a distributor than scorer, which will be a change up for the Warriors to an extent. When the Nets are locked in, they're an impossible equation to solve for opposing defenses to solve.
The Warriors are going small due to injuries, which might be helpful for the Nets considering their big man rotation. DeAndre Jordan had his best game of the season on Wednesday against Indiana as he was engaged, active, and energetic on both sides of the ball. Brooklyn tends to play up to their competition and with this being a marquee matchup, look for Steve Nash and friends to put on a show tonight.
Player to watch: Kevin Durant
Welcome back, KD. When we last saw Durant, the league was making a mockery out of their own protocols by forcing him to the bench against the Raptors and then removing him from the game after a Nets employee’s COVID test came back positive. He’s been out for the past week and will be back tonight. The league is getting on my nerves, which I discussed further here.
COVID aside, this is a momentous evening for KD. When he joined the Warriors in the summer of 2016, he took a historically great team and turned them into world-destroying juggernauts. His time there was very, very complicated and KD became a villain and the never-ending subject of debates about legacy, the ethics of super teams, and all other types of shit. Some writers even made it to the top of the New York Times best seller list off of him. All in all, his time there was historic and deserves to be appreciated by everyone. The Warriors will air a one-minute tribute this evening to honor what he did for the franchise. Then, next season, with fans in the stands, they’ll do it again, this time retiring No. 35 in an appropriate ceremony.
He’s been playing at an MVP level this year, which spells trouble for Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is having his best shooting season of his career, which we can attribute to Curry and the gravity he creates (see, the gravity is a thing!). The Warriors second unit tends to struggle, so it may be best long term for the Warriors to have him run that unit so he can get his shots and give them a capable scoring option when Steph gets his rest.
Also, expect to see more discussion of how Durant has recovered from an injury that used to end stars’ careers, but now with a lot of work and a lot of patience can be conquered. KD’s recovery from his Achilles rupture in Game 5 of the 2019 Finals cost him 18 months but now, incredibly, you are argue he’s better than ever ... and THAT is saying something.
From the Vault
Fun times were had by all (hi, Rihanna!)
And since it’s Valentine’s Day weekend, grab your person and relax to this one
More reading: Golden State of Mind
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Golden State Warriors Game Notes - Golden State Warriors
- Kevin Durant, Nets ready to take center stage at Golden State - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- How the Kevin Durant-Warriors era came to an end — in their own words - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant returns to practice, ready to face Golden State Warriors - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- How the East can block the Brooklyn Nets’ path to the Finals - Tim Bontemps - ESPN
- Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden sorry for how Houston Rockets tenure ended - ESPN
- Kevin Durant back with Nets after latest COVID-19 quarantine - Greg Joyce - New York Post
- James Harden ‘more than confident’ in Nets’ title chances - Greg Joyce - New York Post
- Nets’ James Harden still has regrets over ugly Houston exit - Greg Joyce - New York Post
- Nets excited fans are returning to Barclays Center: ‘Changes a lot’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kevin Durant back for Nets, but DeAndre Jordan will miss Golden State game Saturday - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Kevin Durant rejoins Nets after going back through coronavirus health and safety protocol - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets look to build chemistry off court on long West Coast road trip - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Jeff Green is Nets’ ‘voice of reason’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Talking Nets-Warriors: Steph Curry’s season, Kevin Durant’s return and what to watch for - Alex Schiffer & Anthony Slater - The Athletic NBA
- The 10 moments that’ll forever define the Kevin Durant era with the Warriors - Anthony Slater - The Athletic NBA
- From Kevin Durant to Tyrese Haliburton: NBA’s best, worst and most surprising shot-makers - Seth Partnow - The Athletic NBA
- Kevin Durant’s clinic - How to recover from one of the sports’ worst injuries - Tom Haberstroh - True Hoop
- How Kevin Durant Beat the Worst Injury in Basketball - Ben Cohen - Wall Street Journal
- Kevin Durant set to return for Nets vs. Warriors following COVID contact tracing protocols - Coby Green - SNY
- NETS VS. WARRIORS: KEVIN DURANT RETURNS FOR BROOKLYN - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- BROOKLYN NETS TAKE AIM AT WEST COAST GAUNTLET - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- STAT SURVEY: KYRIE IRVING NO. 3 IN FREE THROW PERCENTAGE - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Steph knows KD run was ‘best basketball world has seen’ - Josh Shrock - NBC Sports Bay Area