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Nets take on Pacers in attempt to stop early season bleeding

UPDATE: Myles Turner will rest Saturday night in second game of back-to-back.

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Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

When you lose in overtime, you lose a winnable game and that’s what happened on Thursday night in Brooklyn. The Nets lost by four to the Luka Doncic-powered Dallas Mavericks. Doncic had 41-point triple double-trouble and despite a 76-point performance by the Nets Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the same problems that have plagued the Nets in their 1-4 start were evident once again: poor defense, particularly on the perimeter or as KD said, “bad coverage,” and failure to perform when things were on the line.

There was also some questionable officiating. The league’s L2M Report, issued Friday, pointed out that the Nets were disadvantaged twice at the end of regulation. Doncic should have been assessed a kicked ball violation with 2:00 left and Dorian Finney-Smith fouled Kevin Durant with 1:25 remaining without a call. But what’s done is done.

Now the Nets move on to a mini-series vs, the Pacers starting Saturday and concluding Monday. Indiana won its second game of the season — and first road — win on Friday night over the Wizards, 127-117, with its own “Big Three” of Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and Tyrese Hailiburton finishing with a combined 77 points.

It may not be a must-win game, but is damn close.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and the YES App will be broadcasting the game on TV. No national TV. WFAN-FM will have the radio call, per usual. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET inside the Barclays Center.


Some encouraging news. Seth Curry could make his season debut. He’s officially questionable as of Friday but at Saturday morning’s shootaround, he described his situation as a game-time decision. Joe Harris who was rested on Thursday will be back, as will Markieff Morris who’s returning after taking time off following the death of his and brother’s father. T.J. Warren who last played for the Pacers at the beginning of 2020-21 season, remains out as he recovers from foot surgery.

For the Pacers, the sheet was fairly clean until early Saturday afternoon when Turner was ruled out (injury management) and Aaron Nesmith (sore right foot) were downgraded to “out.” The game is a back-to-back for the Pacers and Turner only returned from a stress facture suffered last January. Daniel Theis (knee) is also out.

The game

For a lot of fans, the Pacers mini-series is seen as a relief from the Nets tough opening stretch and with the team getting healthy, that might be the case. But the young, athletic Pacer team played well on Friday night in Washington. And as we know, young, athletic teams with or without superstars has been the bane (pun intended) of their existence in the Clean Sweep era.

Although Indiana will be gathering themselves for a back-to-back, they played well vs. the Wizards. As Indy Cornrows, our SB Nation sister site, wrote Saturday morning of the win over the Wizards:

For the first time this season, the Indiana Pacers played a full 48 minutes, picking up their first road win against the Washington Wizards. The Pacers led nearly the entire way, coming up with a response to everything Washington threw at them, getting big time vet performances from Myles Turner and Buddy Hield along the way.

That does not sound like a team that’s going to roll over for Victor Wembanyama. In the end, Myles Turner had 27 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in his second game back this season, Buddy Hield had 25 points, hitting five threes on 10-of-17 overall shooting while Haliburton finessed his way to 9-of-16 shooting (3-of-6 from three) and 12 assists, helping bring Indiana’s total to 30 as a team. Their big issue was the bench which added only 20 points, but 11 came from rising rookie Bennedict Manthurin.

Perhaps most impressive was how fundamental the Pacers was. They shot better than 90 percent from the line, led by Turner’s 10-of-10. Indiana didn’t miss its first free thrown until late in the second. As a team, the Pacers had 50/50/90 shooting splits for the game. They also had 30 assists on 41 field goals and 13 turnovers.

But again, Turner is out.

For Brooklyn, the elephant in the room has to be Kyrie Irving’s latest controversy and whether that will affect his or his team’s on-court performance. There’s also questions around the league about Ben Simmons loss of athleticism and unwillingness to shoot plus the health of Joe Harris and Seth Curry. Saturday will help answer those questions.

Player to Watch

There is no opposing player the Nets fanbase wants more in black-and-white than Myles Turner. But the cost is going up as he improves. A positive performance in the second half of the Pacers loss to the Bulls earlier in the week, coupled with his monster game vs. the Wizards, the near 7-foot 26-year-old seems to be getting back into form after missing a lot of games — 69 to be exact — to injury the last two seasons.

He also seems to be playing with greater intensity. Check this out from the win Friday night...

He still needs improvement in a number of areas. Surprisingly for a big, he’s shooting only 38.1% overall, but he’s hitting 37.5% from three and 100% so far from the line, having hit 13 straight. And he’s averaging 4.5 blocks in two games.

Of his performance, Turner told reporters it was “Just more confidence tonight. Body felt better, just felt better mentally and in a better place.”

He will be a handful for whoever gets the assignment ... presumably Ben Simmons.

From the Vault

What’s the greatest game in the rivalry between the two former ABA teams. Well, the 1972 ABA Finals come to mind but the New York Nets lost that one. So, it has to be Game 5 of the first round of the NBA playoff in 2002 which the Nets won in overtime. Here’s ESPN SportsCenter’s take on one of the greatest games in Nets history, no matter what state or what arena they played in...

Further reading: Indy Cornrows