Hard to imagine a better homestand for the Brooklyn Nets, who wrapped it up on Friday night with a win over the Hawks. They now head to Indiana coming off a 6-1 homestand and look to keep the momentum going against the Pacers.
The Pacers have been one of the more pleasant surprises of this season. A team that most thought was going to continue their rebuild now sits just a half game behind the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings.
Indiana can score in bunches, as the Nets know. On night two of this back-to-back set, the Nets will be without pretty much everyone. Seriously.
No Kevin Durant. No Kyrie Irving. No Ben Simmons. No Nic Claxton. No Seth Curry. No Joe Harris... and so on, and so forth.
“Cam Thomas game,” anyone?
WHO: Brooklyn Nets (15-12) at Indiana Pacers (14-12)
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. est
WHERE: YES Network (tv and app), WFAN-FM (radio)
The Nets can’t afford to turn the ball over on Saturday; it starts there. Indiana plays a guard-heavy rotation that loves to run and shoot threes. It’s hard enough to defend Tyrese Haliburton operating out of a high pick-and-roll, spraying the ball around or creating for himself. 21 turnovers, which Brooklyn finished with against Atlanta, would make the defensive challenge that much harder, as we’ve already seen vs. Indiana, the third-best transition offense in the league, when accounting for volume and effectiveness, per Cleaning the Glass. They run hard, often, and smartly.
Brooklyn, coming off a back-to-back with extra-heavy legs — Watanabe is just returning — must find a way to slow the game down. They will not be able to win a track meet, but in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they can win an Old West gunfight: slow and deliberate.
Past that, if Markieff Morris or Day’Ron Sharpe, who logged six minutes vs. Atlanta, plays, they have to contribute on the defensive glass; all other contributions must stem from there. It may be a Cam Thomas night as well, should Jacque Vaughn want to get his stars some rest. Like, a real Cam Thomas night, where he takes 10-12 shots. Patty Mills may get burn, after seven straight DNPs, and hopefully he adds more 3-pointers than allows on the other end.
For more on the Pacers, check out Indy Cornrows.