Keep the rhythm going. On Sunday evening, the Detroit Pistons jumped out to an 18-point lead against the Brooklyn Nets and had Brooklyn all out of sorts. Fortunately for Brooklyn, they got back in formation after halftime and escaped with a three point victory. The W was the team’s sixth in a row and capped off a perfect 4-0 road trip.
It’s tough when everyone’s chasing after you. The margin for error is thinner, teams give you their best shot every night, and getting back to the top of the mountain becomes even harder. The Golden State Warriors are trying to repeat as NBA champions (again), but the road is a lot tougher this time around. The champs currently sit at 15-17 after getting knocked around by the New York Knicks last night at MSG. They’re heading home after tonight to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Christmas night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV (NBATV for out of towners). WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.
*Looks around* A clean injury report! The first before The Clean Sweep in 2019! Don’t nobody get their foot caught in a subway grate. Day’ron Sharpe and Kessler Edwards and both two-ways, David Duke Jr. and Alondes Williams, are in Las Vegas for the G League Showcase.
Stephen Curry is out the next few weeks with a left shoulder injury. Andre Iguodala is out with a left hip injury. Andrew Wiggins is out with a right adductor strain. This is the second night of a back-to-back, so Klay Thompson is out. Donte Divincenzo and JaMychal Green both sat out last night with non-COVID illnesses. No word on their availability for tonight. Jonathan Kuminga has been dealing with some knee soreness, so we’ll see if he plays tonight.
As the Nets have stacked up wins, there have been discussions about them not beating the very best teams. There may be something to that, but not that much. You can only play who’s in front of you, and the Nets have been handling business like they’re supposed to. The next few games against the Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, and Cleveland Cavaliers will be a great test of their recent improvements, and a good showing will give the fans even more optimism as we head in to 2023.
The Warriors are attempting to pull off a neat magic trick. They are simultaneously looking to win now while also building for the future. It’s been working, but there’s one big question about their future. The Warriors have to figure out what they have in James Wiseman. Through a combination of injuries, NCAA ineligibility and poor play, Wiseman has barely played any professional basketball in the past three years. Since turning pro in 2020, Wiseman has only played 1300 minutes combined in the NBA and the G-League. He’s one of the big red flags in what’s so far been an underwhelming 2020 Draft class. His future will determine a lot of what the Warriors try to do going forward. It’s now or never.
It’s the second leg of a back-to-back and there was no travel involved for the Warriors. At the same time, this is the last night of a season long six game road trip, injuries have piled up during this trip, and the team is already pretty lousy away from home. Steve Kerr used his entire rotation last night, and he’ll have to do it again to nurse his guys through this contest. For the Nets, they can’t afford to let their guard down and assume the Warriors will roll over. They’re still the champs and it will take a great team effort to come away with a win tonight.
When all else fails, turn to Kevin Durant. The Nets were on line for a bad loss on Sunday until KD put on a scoring barrage for the ages with 26 points in the third quarter.
That was fun. Durant has been playing at a historic pace and has been sensational in every aspect of the game. He’s a matchup nightmare for everybody, and if he plays, Jonathan Kuminga will have the unenviable task of guarding the two time Finals MVP.
Even during their best days, the Warriors tend to be a bit loose with the basketball. They had the second highest turnover rate in the NBA last season and usually found themselves in the bottom half of the league in turnovers more times than not since 2014. Without Curry to cover for those mistakes, ball possession has become even more important. They have the second highest turnover rate in the league this season and since Steph’s injury against the Indiana Pacers on December 14, have coughed it up 19 percent of the time they’ve had possession. That’s a bad brew and something they’ll have to cure ASAP. Brooklyn will look to get easy baskets in transition and make the young Warriors pay for every mistake they make.
There is a local challenge element to the game, too. The Dubs lost to the Knicks on the Garden floor by 38 (THIRTY-EIGHT) points Tuesday night a bloody affair. So Nets — and Knicks fans — will want to see not just if the Nets can not just win, but match that margin of victory. The Knicks have now won eight straight. Combined with the Nets six straight, it’s the longest combined win streak in New York basketball since ... never.
Player to watch: Jordan Poole
With Curry out of commission for a while, Steve Kerr will hand the keys of the offense over to JP. Poole broke out last postseason and is one of the players expected to carry the torch for the next generation. Joe Viray of Golden State of Mind wrote about Poole and said:
Poole has been described as Curry’s understudy for several reasons. He’s developed into a dynamic off-ball force that generates chaos and engenders confusion among defenders. The threat of his long-range shooting puts a certain fear into defenders; that fear can be used against them in a multitude of ways.
While Poole hasn’t reached the level of fear Curry induces, he should be enough of a fear-generating machine to create workable advantages for the Warriors offense. The aforementioned shooting should comprise the main meat and potatoes of his ability to create advantages, but that has so far been more in theory than it has been in practice.
Poole can heat up in a hurry and is a great finisher at the basket. He’ll be a great test for the Nets defense and all eyes will be on him. For Poole, this is a fantastic test run as the number one option and will serve him well as he advances in his career.
Kyrie Irving will look to keep the party going this evening. Irving has been masterful in December as he’s averaged 29 points, six rebounds, and five assists on a sparkling .517/.364/.921 shooting split. He’s been essential to the team’s success this month as he’s been one of the best second half scorers in the league this month. The Warriors are a foul happy bunch (second highest opponent free throw rate in the NBA), and that’s music to the Nets’ ears. If Irving is able to live at the rim tonight, he’ll get the Nets easy buckets, put even more strain on a tired Warriors team, and open things up for the rest of his teammates all across the perimeter.
It’s the season of giving, and our friends at the New York Liberty are doing their part. On Monday, the team launched their Season of Giving campaign as they provided gifts to community organizations across the city.
The Liberty launched its Season of Giving campaign w/our sponsors. We made the holidays brighter by proⅵding gifts to community partners in NYC. Thank you @BioSteelSports,@HeroCosmetics,@HSpecialSurgery,@SeatGeek,@Snipes_usa,@WebullGlobal，@WilsonBasketball,@Withings & @Xbox. pic.twitter.com/Dus572Kjks— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) December 20, 2022
The program aligns with their social responsibility pillars BEUP, which stand for Basketball, Embracing young women, championing Unity, and promoting Pride. The donations ranged from: basketballs and equipment to community centers, skincare items to organizations that work with survivors of gender based violence, clothing and food to underserved communities, and medical supplies to organizations that provide various services for marginalized communities. The franchise has continued to make community work a big part of their mission, and it’s great to see them lending a helping hand this holiday season.
And now, a brief intermission...
While most of us on the East Coast were asleep, the New York Mets were working to give us an early Christmas present. Around 2:40 AM, it was announced that former Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins star, Carlos Correa, would be joining the Mets! It looked like he was a lock to go to the San Francisco Giants, but that started going haywire yesterday afternoon. Correa joins a stacked Mets team that is hoping to make it to the World Series in 2023. There are a few lessons to take away from this ordeal: 1) never sleep during hot stove season 2) always do what you can to make things better, and most importantly: GO METS
From the Vault
A parade of Kevin Durant buckets? I can work with that.
More reading: Golden State of Mind
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Golden State Game Notes - Golden State Warriors
- Streaking Nets play host to weakened Warriors - STATS
- Durant leads Brooklyn against Golden State after 43-point game - AP
- Red-hot Knicks and Nets are giving fans a rare treat - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Surging Nets know they have to start games better with tough tests ahead - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- T.J. Warren showing his defensive prowess for Nets - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets bracing for tough upcoming stretch: ‘We’ve got to raise our level of play’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Injury-thinned Warriors offer little resistance in blowout loss to Knicks - C.J. Holmes - San Francisco Chronicle
All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on Sling TV.