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Reeling Nets come home to face surging Celtics

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Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Still bad, guys! The Brooklyn Nets played a good first half, but the wheels fell off in the third quarter and the Denver Nuggets handed them their eighth straight loss on Sunday afternoon in Denver. Brooklyn went 0 for the road trip and the temperature’s rising.

The opponent tonight will be the Boston Celtics. Former Nets assistant and first year head coach, Ime Udoka, has dealt with plenty of bumps in the road, but it looks like they’ve started to figure things out. They took on the Orlando Magic on Sunday evening, and won by 33 points. The win was their fifth in a row. After this, they get two days off before hosting the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for us. TNT for the rest of y’all. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m.

Injuries

No Kevin Durant and Joe Harris. LaMarcus Aldridge is out as he tries to recover from an ankle sprain and suspiciously or not, no James Harden, who moved from “questionable” to “out” Tuesday morning. Nic Claxton is also out, also with a tight hamstring. That means the Nets planned starting five are all out. Kyrie Irving will be back on Thursday.

Nick Friedell of ESPN saw Harden exit Barclays Center early Tuesday afternoon.

The newly acquired Bol Bol is out as he recovers from right foot surgery. PJ Dozier is out after undergoing left ACL surgery.

The game

Brooklyn took the first game in November.

Trade deadline is Thursday and the Nets need a shot of energy in the absolute worst way. The team has been spiraling, the defense has fallen apart, and scoring is hard to come by. Granted, Kevin Durant would solve literally every problem the Nets are currently dealing with, but he’s recovering and will be out for a little while longer. The rest of the folks that are here have to save themselves.

The biggest question surrounding the franchise is what’s going to happen with James Harden. On Sunday afternoon, Steve Nash said the team has no plans to trade Harden. The Philadelphia 76ers are making a major push to get him and as the fanbase gets more and more irritated, things will come to a head soon enough.

Jayson Tatum is the lead option for the C’s, but his shot hasn’t really been there this season. His shooting splits are at .429/.328/.842, which are all career lows for the All Star (and KD replacement in this year’s game). He’s been taking a lot more three pointers this season, which could explain why his numbers are down some. Tatum is still one of the best young players in the league and someone that the franchise can build around.

David Duke, Jr is back with the big club and for a Nets team that desperately needs a jolt of energy, DDJ may be the man to bring what they need.

Another Nets rookie will look to bring good energy tonight. Cam Thomas has been pressed into a bigger role and has met the moment. With the roster being what it is, he’ll be asked to come off the bench and get beaucoup buckets. Tough to ask a rookie to shoulder the scoring load like this, but he’s doing all he can to keep the team competitive.

Without Aldridge and Claxton, Blake Griffin will start and BG has started to find his shot. He made 5-7 from three point range on Sunday and if he has regained his touch from three point range, it will open up the Nets offense and make them a lot more viable. He’ll have to tangle with Robert Williams. Williams is a ball of energy and a menace on the interior as he is fourth in the NBA in blocks per game. We saw how disruptive he was in the playoffs last season and as the C’s climb the standings, his play will make them a pesky opponent for higher seeded Eastern Conference teams.

It appears that the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls have moved on from acquiring Dennis Schroder for the time being. He’s a good backup point guard to have on your club as he can attack the basket and is a perfectly acceptable three point shooter. We’ll see if teams come knocking on Brad Stevens’ door.

Player to watch: Jaylen Brown

It looks as if things might be coming to a head this summer in Boston. Steve Bulpett of Heavy published an article that stated Brown and the C’s could split up if Boston doesn’t get its act together and play to their potential. That’s a convo for another time, but in the interim, JB has done his usual good job on the court. Having a 25-year-old wing that gets you 24 points, six rebounds, and three assists a night while giving you quality defense is incredibly hard to come by. Don’t take it for granted.

So, where do the Nets turn to offense now? Irving won’t be here and Harden is probably out again so all eyes turn to Patty Mills. Mills has taken on a role he didn’t plan for, but has held it down and been one of the team leaders this season. Mills has to go above and beyond while the team is as ravaged as they are right now. The All Star break is in a week and the Nets are going to need a little bit more from Mills if they want to get back on the winning side.

From the Vault

The Nets are celebrating Black History Month tonight, set’s learn a little bit about trailblazing journalist, Ida B. Wells!

And now that Tom Brady is outta here, let’s watch him and Randy Moss make some history

More reading: Celtics Blog