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Nets visit Dallas to take on Mavs

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Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

At least the game was fun? The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to come away with another signature win against the Milwaukee Bucks and take the season series, but the Nets let go of the rope and lost a winnable game. No moral victories here. Just get your stuff together and bounce back.

The opponent tonight will be the Dallas Mavericks. It’s been a curious year for Rick Carlisle’s guys, but they find themselves solidly in the playoff race (and first place in the Southwest Division for what that’s worth) and hope to climb higher in the standings before the season closes out. They did themselves a solid by beating the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for locals, TNT for the outsiders. WFAN on radio. Tip at 7:30.

Injuries

James Harden, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Chris Chiozza are out. Everyone else is available.

Kristaps Porzingis is out due to a knee injury while Maxi Kleber is out with an Achilles injury.

The game

The Mavs won the first game in February.

Unsurprisingly, Mark Cuban has thoughts. This time, it’s about the play in tournament:

“I get why the NBA is doing it. But if we are going to be creative because of COVID, we should go straight up 1-20 and let the bottom 4 play in. This is the year particularly to do it since the 10 games cut [from the normal 82-game schedule] were in conference.

The worst part of this approach is that it doubles the stress of the compressed schedule. Rather than playing for a playoff spot and being able to rest players as the standings become clearer, teams have to approach every game as a playoff game to either get into or stay in the top 6 since the consequences, as Luka said, are enormous. So players are playing more games and more minutes in fewer days.”

All that whining. Shut the hell up.

When you’re going for titles, you have to take care of the little things. On the season, the Nets are shooting 80.7 percent from the free throw line. On Tuesday? Only 61.5 percent in a game they lost by six points. To make matters worse, they got bossed around on the glass by the Bucks. These are all correctable things and now that Nicolas Claxton is back, at least they’ll be getting some help on the boards.

And speaking of Claxton, now that he’s back, DeAndre Jordan’s minutes will probably decrease. DJ had a disastrous stay in Milwaukee and looked out of sorts trying to guard Giannis Antetokuonmpo. Claxton is just getting back so he won’t be at his usual minutes level, but it’ll help the Nets immensely to get him back in a groove fast. The team got worked on the boards Sunday and need to put forth a better effort if they want to win.

Like most Rick Carlisle teams, the Mavs are very disciplined when it comes to taking care of the ball. As a team, they’ve only turned it over 12.6 percent of the time they’ve had the ball, third best mark in the NBA this season. It’s helped them to be one of the league’s better offensive attacks this season and their ability to make the most out of every possession will help them stay in this game.

So the Josh Richardson experience hasn’t been all that great this year? They brought him in from Philadelphia to bolster their perimeter defense and provide a little bit of offense to open things up. The offense certainly hasn’t been there for him as he’s shooting a career low 32.2 percent from three. His percentages have dropped each of the last three seasons as he’s been on different teams each year. They’ll need him to be a lot better come playoff time so now would be as good a time as any to get it in gear.

Kevin Durant had a good game on Tuesday, but didn’t finish strong. KD wasn’t able to bring the Nets home and regretted taking some threes down the stretch instead of driving to the basket. Such is life and if/when he’s back in a similar spot, he’ll deliver like he always does. Dallas will throw a bevy of defenders at him and he’ll look to keep his hot streak going.

Not having Kleber or Porzingis on the court ought to help the Nets out inside. Brooklyn had difficulty dealing with Brook Lopez at the rim and the Mavs don’t protect the rim as well as the Bucks do. Look for Brooklyn to be aggressive driving to the basket and putting pressure on the Mavs.

Player to watch: Luka Doncic

Speaking of dudes whining, Luka sure does fuss at the refs a lot. He currently has 15 technical fouls and the next one he gets will earn him a one game suspension. For what it’s worth, he’s vowed to avoid another tech and with the Mavs fighting for their playoff lives, they’re going to need him out there every step of the way.

Aside from that, Doncic has been excellent as usual this year. He’s not gonna win the MVP as many had predicted going into the year, but averaging 28/8/9 on solid efficiency will definitely solve a lot of problems. The shooting percentages are up a tick and if he can become a league average to good three point shooter, then everything opens up for him.

Kyrie Irving is a bit lighter in the pockets this morning. The league fined him and the Nets $35k each for Irving not doing postgame interviews. Whatever.

In the meantime, he found his shot on Tuesday night. He put up a game high 38 points on super efficient shooting in his 39 minutes of playing time. For all the talk of Irving’s recent shooting woes, he’s still one of the most dynamic scorers in the league and is a threat from anywhere on the court. He’s a bucket getter of the highest variety and a quick start will help the Nets keep the Mavs down.

From the Vault

Y’all ready to get hyped or what?

More reading: Mavs Moneyball