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With KAT and Kyrie out, Nets will try to bounce back in a tense Minneapolis

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New York Knicks v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Be better. The Brooklyn Nets had a primetime game against the Los Angeles Lakers and after what was a good game turned ugly and the Nets got smoked out. It be like that.

The opponent tonight will be the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s another lost year for this team as they’ll be turning their attention to the upcoming Draft to go about improving their roster and trying to set their future up. They played yesterday and beat the Chicago Bulls in a close one, 121-117 with Karl Anthony Towns and our old friend, D’Angelo Russell both scoring 27 points, DLo in a mere 26 minutes.

It was an emotional night for KAT as the T’Wolves honored his mother, the New Jersey native who died of COVID-19 last year.

Where to follow the game

YES2 Network on TV. WFAN-FM (101.9) only. Tip off after 8.

We’ll be on Clubhouse post-game. Details later.

Injuries

No James Harden (hamstring), Spencer Dinwiddie (torn ACL), Kyrie Irving (personal/family matter), LaMarcus Aldridge (non COVID illness), or Tyler Johnson (knee) tonight. Harden is to re-evaluated later in the week.

UPDATE: Karl-Anthony Towns is out (personal reasons). Malik Beasley (hamstring) is out.

The game

We are starting with some off the court news today. With the city of Minneapolis already on edge over the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck and killed him last year, there was an incident in the nearby Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Sunday night. An unarmed, young Black man named Daunte Wright was killed by police during a traffic stop yesterday afternoon. Details are still coming in and as the community mourns the loss of another person at the hands of police, protesters have been met with tear gas and flashbang grenades from local law enforcement.

Moments like these remind us that we still have a LONG way to go to make a country and world that’s safe for all of us to live in. It's exhausting.

Meanwhile, there’s a good chance that tonight’s game could be postponed because of rising tensions in Minnesota, as Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews reported just before 3 p.m. ET ...

The Timberwolves are about to be under new management. The era of Glen Taylor as owner is coming to an end. Tayler is in talks to sell the Wolves and Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA to an ownership group that includes Alex Rodriguez. Of course, that means Wolves legend Kevin Garnett will not be part of ownership, and that’s a shame. The reported price is $1.5 billion. That’s almost a billion dollars less than Joe Tsai paid for the Nets ... without Barclyas Center. Minneapolis, of course, is not New York.

So, Kyrie Irving and Dennis Schroder got tossed from that primetime game, and I’ll make an executive decision to head into the Vault earlier and let Shaquille O’Neal speak for the viewing audience...

Seriously, WE DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO SPEND SO MUCH TIME ON THESE DAMN REFEREES! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

With no Irving on the board tonight, Chris Chiozza will be running point tonight. Without Harden, the Nets are short on ballhandlers and creators so it’s gonna be a tough bit of business for Steve Nash and friends. On the other side will be our old friend, D’Angelo Russell. Yes, he’s shooting a career high from three point range, but the issues he’s had throughout his career are still there. He doesn’t finish at the rim as well as you’d think he would, doesn’t get to the free throw line that often considering how much he has the ball in his hands

It’s good to reward the guys that work hard and are fan favorites. Yesterday, the team announced they signed Alize Johnson to a multiyear contract. A sign of a good, healthy franchise is when you reward fan favorite players that play and work hard with a spot on the team and good money. Good job.

The Nets got worked by Andre Drummond on Saturday night, and will have their hands full the next two games. The main event is on Wednesday night against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, They feared they’d have to deal with Karl Anthony Towns tonight, but now that he’s out, the big man quandary will have to wait.

Brooklyn won the first meeting a few weeks ago.

KAT gave the Nets trouble that first time around and the Wolves will feature him heavily tonight. With this being the first game Aldridge has missed since debuting on the Nets, I wonder how the big rotation will look.

DeAndre Jordan hasn’t played in a good while and will probably be someone the team needs against Embiid on Wednesday so tonight would be a good night to get him back in something resembling a groove. Nicolas Claxton seems like the obvious contender to see a bump in minutes. The team has done a great job of putting him in positions to grow naturally and he’s made himself into someone that will be crucial to the team’s present and future goals.

Kevin Durant is still on a minutes count so he won’t be out there for big minutes. The shot’s there, but you can see the rust with the high turnover count (14) in his two games back. His minutes have increased each game and probably will again tonight. As long as he’s comfortable, healthy, and reestablishing his rhythm, the Nets will be in great shape come title time.

Player to watch: Anthony Edwards

So yesterday, Miles Bridges of the Hornets might’ve pulled off the dunk of the year...

Which puts it in competition with this beauty

Best part of that was the DJ playing “Murder was the Case” afterwards. I love this game.

Beyond the dunks, the number one pick is starting to settle into a groove. His shots are falling more frequently and he’s crossed the 50 percent plateau from the field five times in the past nine games. Kid is built like a tank and is shaping up to be a heck of a finisher at the rim. Dan Devine has more at The Ringer:

That’s the vision for Edwards: a high-volume creator who can overwhelm tight coverage to get to the rim or line at will, can splash jumpers when you play off of him, and can facilitate in the pick-and-roll. The only way to slow down a dude like that is to keep him from getting the ball in the first place.

Joe Harris will slide up a role with Irving out. Lemme knock on wood right quick and acknowledge that Harris has played in every game this season for the Nets and in a season where there’s been so much fluidity, having him out there every single night has been a huge plus. The Wolves’ three point defense this season has been pretty porous as they’ve allowed teams to shoot 39 percent from deep, third worst in the league. That should help Harris spring free and help the Nets league leading three point attack get busy.

From the Vault

This past weekend was WrestleMania, so let’s get in the spirit

More reading: Canis Hoopus