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Nets come home to face the Wolves

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Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Tough it out. The Brooklyn Nets went into Detroit hoping to bounce back from a drubbing they received at the hands of the Utah Jazz. It wasn't pretty, but they managed to get the job done and came away with the win against the Pistons on Friday night.

The opponent tonight will be the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference as they look to figure out what to do with their team going forward. They played the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at home and got waxed by 22 points. Yeesh.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

And join us on Clubhouse as well! Details TBD.

Injuries

Kevin Durant and Spencer Dinwiddie are out. Landry Shamet is out, too. Kyrie Irving is back.

Josh Okogie and D'angelo Russell are out.

The game

Life as a shorty shouldn’t be so rough. For Anthony Edwards, being the number one pick has been particularly difficult considering the pandemic and the midseason coaching change. As you would expect from a rookie guard, he’s struggling from the field as he’s at 38.5 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from three point range. On the bright side, he’s averaging 17 points a night and will likely win Rookie of the Year now that Lamelo Ball is out indefinitely. This is a year of development so as long as Edwards develops good habits, it’ll be a success.

Edwards is gonna get a masterclass tonight as he’ll match up with James Harden. Harden got a rare night off in Utah and came back ready to rock and roll in Detroit with a Nets season high of 44 points on Friday. He’s forcing his way into the MVP conversation game by game, and if the Nets wind up with the one seed when the season ends, it’s going to be very hard to keep him out of the top three for the award.

The Nets have a three game in four night run this week, but all the games are at home. Don’t see that very often.

Kyrie Irving is back after a week off, and he’ll look to pick up where he left off. Irving has been masterful this year and he’ll be someone that puts immeasurable pressure on opposing defenses. Opposing teams get around 33 shots a game inside of five feet against the rim, third highest mark in the NBA. His ability to break defenders down and finish at the rim will lead to more eyes on him, which is doubly fatal for the Wolves since they allow teams to shoot 38.6 percent from deep, third highest mark in the NBA. Have fun with that.

Player to watch: Karl Anthony Towns

COVID has taken a lot away from us, but it has hit KAT in particular horrible ways. Towns lost seven family members to COVID-19 last year and tested positive for COVID himself earlier this year. It was another tough ordeal for Towns in a year that has been full of them. Make sure you hold your folks tight and tell them you love them.

On the court, his game is still rock solid, and new coach Chris Finch is utilizing KAT more in the high post to initiate offense in the half court. The shooting percentages are down slightly, but 23 points, ten rebounds, and four assists from your big man is fantastic. They just need to hope he gets better at anchoring the defense, and then they’ll be cooking with gas. My guy Nekias Duncan has more on that here and mentioned something incredibly interesting about the future KAT x DLo fit:

I’m not sure how hot of a take this is, but I’d argue the Wolves have seen enough. In the case of Russell, he’s young (25), but not young enough to where we don’t have a handle on his strengths and weaknesses. There’s still room and time for him to grow, but we have the template: a pull-up artist with good passing vision that doesn’t pressure the rim, and a poor defender with limited upside.

Russell has utility, but it’s fair to question if he’s truly a core piece you want to build with long-term. The “poor defender with limited upside” bit may seem harsh, but the Wolves want to build a winner around Towns at a certain point. That means thinking about what this team will look like in a playoff setting. Within that context, having Russell at the point of attack in end-of-game scenarios is problematic for obvious reasons.

Instinctively, you’d think Minnesota will have time to figure it out. However, time moves at warp speed in the NBA these days so they’re on the clock to get it right, or else.

The Nets roster is starting to look like Roc-A-Fella's roster circa 2003. Everyone you ever remember that was dope is on the team and putting an album out. And the newest Net to get their Roc chain is LaMarcus Aldridge! Aldridge comes over from the San Antonio Spurs after five and a half mostly good seasons there. He won’t be playing tonight, but he’ll debut soon and the team will look to figure out how best to utilize him and what his role will be.

While we wait for Aldridge to get here, the center trio of Blake Griffin, Nicolas Claxton, and DeAndre Jordan will man the middle for Steve Nash and friends. Griffin is gaining more strength by the game and his ability to initiate offense from the high post is a nice wrinkle in the offense and his passing makes the Nets even more difficult to defend. With another quality big in town, this might mean Claxton’s minutes will start to decline. That would be a shame as he’s been in a great groove for the past month and his ability on defense could come in handy come playoff time. It won’t be easy, but it would help Claxton’s growth a great deal if he got to match up with Towns tonight. Iron sharpens iron and going up against one of the game’s best will do him some good.

From the Vault

Lil Kim is performing at halftime tonight, so it's only right we start this party off right

More reading: Canis Hoopus