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Nets try to salvage homestand vs. Grizzlies

Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

They got EXACTLY what they deserved. For most of the game, the Brooklyn Nets were in control and a tired Los Angeles Clippers looked like they were ready to be defeated. However, the Nets took their foot off the pedal, tricked off a huge lead again, and paid the consequences with an embarrassing home loss. When you’re aiming to win a championship, you need to practice good habits all game long and don’t take your foot off the pedal. A hard, but necessary lesson for this team going forward.

The opponent tonight is the Memphis Grizzlies. They are such a fun and bouncy group of players. They’ve been off since New Years Eve after beating the San Antonio Spurs to extend their winning streak to four games.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and NBATV (for the out of towners) on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Joe Harris is out. LaMarcus Aldridge is questionable with right foot soreness.

Dillon Brooks, Jarrett Culver, John Konchar, De’Anthony Melton, and Xavier Williams are in COVID protocols. Sam Merrill is out with a left ankle sprain.

The game

When Patty Mills fouled out on Saturday, the Nets didn’t have a floor spacer to give the stars more room. One of their big floor spacers is recovering from surgery and the other one will be back probably within the next few days. In the meantime, they could use some of the youngsters like a Kessler Edwards or Cam Thomas to give another scoring/shooting option. The Nets operate best when they have elite shooting on the court at all times along with multiple players that can get their own shots.

One big criticism that the Nets have gotten throughout the season is that they haven’t beaten any good teams. A win tonight would help quiet that talk down some. The Grizz have been one of the best teams in the West this year and have exceeded all expectations. A win for the Nets tonight would help wash away the ugliness of their last two losses, have them feeling good as they head out of town, and give them a win against an above average team.

Jaren Jackson, Jr is a pretty interesting player. He lost most of last season as he recovered from an ACL tear, but he’s been back for a while and has looked good. JJJ is averaging 26 points and five rebounds, and while his shooting percentages are down, he’s made up for it by being sixth in the league in blocks per game.

The Nets have been pretty great on the glass this week, and that will be essential tonight. Memphis is third in the league in rebounding rate. A lot of that is thanks to the work Steven Adams does on the boards as his nine rebounds a night lead the team. With Aldridge dealing with a foot injury, Nicolas Claxton will take on a bigger role tonight. Clax has been wonderful as of late and is gaining more and more confidence by the day. Claxton is such an integral part of this team’s success, and the more he’s on the court, the more impact he’ll have on the game.

Brooklyn got sloppy late against Los Angeles, and they’re going to need to maintain their discipline tonight. Memphis is fifth in opponent turnover rate, third in points off of turnovers, and first in fastbreak points. If they’re not careful, the Nets may find themselves having to dig out of a deep hole early.

The great thing about getting back to work after a bad loss is that you have a desire to get back at it and get it right. Here’s Kevin Durant:

It’s like that. KD wasn’t bad against the Clips, but we’ve seen him be better so he’ll be looking to make a statement tonight.

Player to watch: Ja Morant

The young gawd! Morant does everything for the Grizzlies as he’s the engine that keeps everything humming. He’s shooting a career best 40 percent from three point range along with 25/6/7 per game averages. He’s lethal off the dribble and is second in the NBA in drives per game. A player like Ja that is constantly attacking and able to finish incredibly well at the rim spells trouble for all defenders and the Nets will have to work extra hard to keep him out the paint.

Over at Grizzly Bear Blues, EdMemphis wrote about the young star’s defense and said:

Morant has really taken his defense up a few notches lately as he has been the best wing defender on the team for several games now since returning. He’s picking up in perfect timing on pick n roll, he’s not getting caught too far away from his matchup, & he’s doing a great job contesting every shot he defends.

The league has so many great young stars, and Morant is going to be one of the faces of the NBA for a long, long time. I love it.

James Harden has looked pretty great since returning from protocols. He’s had back to back 30 point triple doubles and is looking more and more like his MVP self. If Harden continues to be assertive attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line, it will power the Nets offense and help solve some of the spacing issues presented by certain lineups. With Brooklyn a few weeks away from (hopefully) being at full strength, we’ll see how Harden’s game continues to evolve.

From the Vault

All praises due to Z-Bo

More reading: Grizzly Bear Blues