Now that we’ve all survived 24 hours since the Ben Simmons pass heard ‘round the world, it’s time to move on and talk about the Brooklyn Nets getting their “stuff” together on night two of a back-to-back set.
On Thursday night the Nets welcome Luka Doncic to Barclays Center where they’ll hope to slow down the league’s top offense (122.6 ORTG). And, well, doing so as the league’s 2nd worst defensive team through four games boasting a 119.8 DRTG. Fun stuff.
All eyes will be on Luka and, checks notes, Ben Simmons who continues to look to build up his basketball confidence and prove to notable basketball connoisseur Shannon Sharpe (?) that he is not afraid to shoot the basketball. Hopefully tonight he’ll be able to put Mr. Sharpe’s mind at ease.
WHO: Brooklyn Nets (1-3) vs. Dallas Mavericks (1-2)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. est
WHERE: NBA TV (national), YES Network (local), WFAN-FM (radio)
The story thus far for Dallas has been the arrival of talented big man Christian Wood. At 6’10 with rolling, popping, and isolation ability, he has been a true Robin to Luka’s Batman. Whereas Dallas’ attack last season was largely a my-turn, your-turn (but mostly my turn) situation with Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie alongside Doncic, he and Wood have developed a real two-man game.
Per Cleaning the Glass, lineups featuring Wood and Doncic have outscored opponents by 38 points in just 93 possessions so far this season, scoring pretty much every time down the court. (Seriously, their offensive rating together is 150.5!) How the Nets guard actions between them, and obviously Luka himself, should dictate the game. One would imagine it is some combination of Simmons and Royce O’Neale defending Doncic, unafraid to switch Nic Claxton onto him if there is a screen set by Wood.
Offensively, the Mavericks have just been a nightmare to guard, with the highest offensive rating in the league thus far. I just ranted about the inadequacy of these small sample sizes in data just a week into the season, but it only supports the eye test here. After a summer of Eurobasket competition for Doncic, he’s arrived in shape, and has a new toy to play with. They almost exclusively shoot threes and lay-ups. Even if the Nets weren’t on the second night of a back-to-back, it’s a dangerous matchup. Heavily switching on Doncic and reaching deeper into the bench, prioritizing size (hello, Yuta Watanabe) may be the way to go in this one. Less scrambling on defense, slower possessions, and utilizing what fresh legs Brooklyn does have.
For more on the Mavericks, check out Mavs Moneyball.