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Nets look to get another win against Knicks

2021 70th NBA All-Star Game Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Keep it rocking. The Brooklyn Nets played host to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night looking to keep pace near the top of the Eastern Conference and avenge one of their worst losses of the season. It was a bumpy ride, but they managed to do both as they came away with a five point win in front of the hometown faithful at Barclays. The W was their fourth in a row and 12th out of their last 13 games.

The opponent tonight will be the New York Knicks. It’s been a while, but the Knicks are back to being useful again! The second half of the season got off to a rocky start Thursday in Milwaukee, but they managed to make up for it as they beat up the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday afternoon.

Where to follow the game

Double header! YES Network and ESPN on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM and ESPN radio 98.7 (rip KISS FM) FM on radio. Tip off after 8 PM. MSG is blacked out.


Spencer Dinwiddie, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffin are out. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was listed as probable and will likely make his return to the court tonight.

Mitchell Robinson is out after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture in his right hand. Derrick Rose is in the COVID protocol and won’t be playing. Austin Rivers missed Saturday’s game due to personal reasons. No word on if he’ll be here tonight. Elfrid Payton is dealing with a hamstring injury so it’s unlikely he sees the court tonight.

The game

Brooklyn won the first game back in January.

Yesterday, the city marked one year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and institutions such as Barclays Center participated in memorials to mark the tragic anniversary. As someone who lost one family member to COVID and thought I was going to lose another one to it, the memorials are helpful and positive. It ain’t over yet, but it feels like we’re getting closer to the finish line.

I’m sure you’ve all heard “The NBA is so much better when the Knicks are good.” That’s technically not true. The NBA doesn’t need the Knicks to be good, they just need them to be decent. Knicks fans will take care of the rest.

This could be a potential playoff matchup, and inevitably we’ll hear who’s town this is or whatever. The Nets have bigger aspirations than being king of the town, which I talked about here a while back.

When the Knicks wrap up here, they’re back on the road as they’ll be heading to Philadelphia as the back half of a back-to-back and finale of a four game road trip (also the third game in four nights). It’s gonna be a tough road for Tom Thibodeau to get them into the playoffs for the first time since 2013, but he’ll have his guys ready.

Speaking of Thibs, he’s done a lot better coaching the Knicks than I certainly expected. Over at Posting and Toasting, my brother Jayson Buford wrote about Thibs:

Communication and marketing has become just as important as the plays on your board in the NBA these days. Fans not only want a coach, they want a man who can excite the fanbase with rhetoric about working with players and FaceTiming with free agents. Thibs isn’t giving them that. With the Knicks, Thibs is coaching a team with a fanbase that will be into the Knicks because, well, it’s the Knicks. We just want to see a winner finally. We want to see a team that plays hard.

Thibs is a fiery basketball addict, just like Knicks fans who walk the streets of New York every day. It is an up-and-down marriage of two separate entities, like Cam’ron and Jay-Z. But so far, this season it’s mostly been ‘’Welcome to New York City.’’

I’m telling y’all, get familiar with Jay now.

Quiet as it’s kept, RJ Barrett has found his groove. His three point percentage has improved each month this season and he’s continued to keep his turnovers down. For as bad as he looked early, he’s still only 20 years old and has a bright future ahead of him. And with the Knicks seemingly heading in the right direction, the team will be able to find suitable players and shooters that can bring even more out of his game.

Another lefty will look to put on a show tonight. James Harden brought the win home for the Nets on Saturday as he scored their last ten points. Harden put another triple double on the board, which included this nice bit of grooviness

Harden is impossible to matchup with, so Barrett and the Knicks will have their hands full with Harden. In fact, it will be the first time that Harden will face the Knicks in a Nets uniform. He has a chance at another milestone Monday. After passing Larry Bird in career points Saturday, he’ll pass Gary Payton Monday if he scores 22 points.

It’s pretty rare for Kyrie Irving to go an entire game without making a 3-pointer, but that’s what happened with Irving on Saturday against the Pistons. He did make 8-12 of his two point shots, so it wasn’t all bad. Immanuel Quickley has been getting more minutes with all of the point guard issues the Knicks have been facing, and he ought to be out there for an extended period tonight. Tough for a rookie to have to check one of the league’s most dynamic scorers, but a good showing will do wonders for him.

Player to watch: Julius Randle

Sometimes, it takes some time and the right leadership to bring the most out of someone. Randle’s debut season in NYC didn’t go well, but with Thibs as coach, he was able to earn his first All Star selection. Randle’s playmaking has been off the charts this season as he’s averaging a career high in assists per game and has done a good job of keeping his turnovers reasonably low considering how much he has the ball in his hands. It’s great to see talented players like Randle land with a coaching staff and team that allows them to unleash all of their skills.

The Nets frontcourt trio will look to keep at it tonight. DeAndre Jordan starts at the five with Jeff Green and Nicolas Claxton taking their turns manning the middle. They’re all gonna need to be big tonight because as a team, the Knicks have been the fourth best rebounding squad in the league this season. Paint protection has been Brooklyn’s bugaboo, and once the team fully fleshes out the big rotation when everyone is healthy, they might be able to reverse those trends.

From the Vault

We got some bad news over the weekend as Marvelous Marvin Hagler passed away at the age of 66. With that in mind, let’s head on back and watch one of the greatest boxing matches we’ll ever see

More reading: Posting and Toasting