Dang. On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks played a fantastic national TV game. The Nets were a second away from their fifth straight victory, but old friend Spencer Dinwiddie hit a buzzer beater to hand BK a heartbreaking loss. No time to dwell on it. Onward and upward.
The opponent tonight will be the Portland Trailblazers. Technically, Chauncey Billups and friends are still in the play in race. However, they’re all set on next season and are playing out the string. They’ve been in town for the past few days after playing the New York Knicks and losing by 30 points on Wednesday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m.
No Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, LaMarcus Aldridge, or Kyrie Irving. Seth Curry has been out for the past week with an ankle injury, but is listed as questionable and expected to make his return tonight. Irving’s family seats were empty two nights ago. Will he be on hand vs. Blazers?
Damian Lillard (core muscle recovery), Anfernee Simons (left knee patellar tendinopathy), Jusuf Nurkic (left foot plantar fasciitis), Nassir Little (left shoulder injury), Joe Ingles (left knee injury), Eric Bledsoe (left Achilles tendinopathy), and Didi Louzada (left knee injury) are out.
Portland won the first game back in January.
The odds are in the Nets’ favor, but they can’t afford to overlook the Blazers. Surprises often happen in the NBA so they have to give a great effort to get the W.
Yesterday was a busy day for the New York Liberty as they filled out the coaching staff for new head coach, Sandy Brondello. It’s been a busy and expensive couple of weeks for both of Joe and Clara Wu Tsai’s organizations, which you can read about here.
For the Blazers, they have to figure out how to build for the future and see which players are worth keeping around. We know Lillard is a lock and Simons likely is as well. This final stretch will go a long way in helping Blazers management see what’s what, and the coaching staff has been a big plus for the youngsters. From Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge:
One of the wonderful things about watching this team is how confidently they shoot. Granted, that confidence is often misplaced, especially from the perimeter. They look a lot better when scoring inside than lofting jumpers. Still, not a player on the squad hesitates when the shot is open. Normal looks, tight situations...it doesn’t matter. This speaks volumes not just about them, but about Portland’s system.
Gotta continue to support and empower your folks.
Like any team that struggles on defense, the Blazers have been unable to keep teams off the free throw line. They have the third-worst opponent’s free throw rate in the league this season and when you’re constantly in the bonus, defenders can’t be as aggressive and you have to dig deeper into the bench than you’d like. They also lead the league in turnovers since the All Star break and for a Nets team that has been playing faster, they’ll look to cash in every chance they get.
The Blazers allow teams to shoot 36.9 percent on 3-pointers, the highest mark in the NBA. On wide-open threes, their foes have cashed in on 39.7 percent of them, third-highest in the league. Both numbers bode well for Patty Mills. Mills has been a much better player off the bench than as a starter and if Curry is back, Patty can slide down a role. Leaving Curry open would also spell doom for Portland so if the Nets can continue to show excellent ball movement, they’ll make a killing from deep. Mills, by the way, enters the game with 209 three’s two short of Joe Harris’s best year (2020-21). The Nets record for three’s in a season is 234 by D’Angelo Russell.
We’ll get another chance to see the dynamic big man duo for the Nets. Andre Drummond had another double double and Nic Claxton had some highlight dunks in transition while also doing a decent job when he got switched on to Luka Doncic on the perimeter. Brooklyn has a nice one-two punch going and both bigs will look to control the boards. The Blazers have been the worst rebounding team in the NBA since the All-Star break and for Drummond, if he can dominate the boards early, it’ll give his guys extra possessions to cash in.
Without Irving, the Nets have needed to have another guard that can capably run the offense. Goran Dragic has done a good job running the show and has given them some scoring than originally anticipated.
Player to watch: Josh Hart
With all the Blazers lead scoring options out injured, Hart has had to do a lot more than we’re used to. Since the trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, Hart has averaged around 19 points on a .474/.357/.765 shooting split. His usage rate has skyrocketed, but he’s maintained his productivity despite the new responsibilities. Hart is someone that will likely be in the Blazers’ plans going forward, and having a player like him would help the Blazers get back to respectability and playoff contention.
The great thing about Kevin Durant is that even if you throw every defender you have at him, he’ll always make the right basketball play. Jason Kidd and the Mavs sent the most double teams KD has seen as a member of the Nets, and he was able to handle it. He was less efficient from the field than he normally is (8-20 from the field), but he handed out 10 assists and kept the offense moving along. Durant does everything you need to win and with two days off before a tough matchup against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, the coaching staff can put a bit more on his shoulders so he can bring home the W for the hometown faithful.
From the Vault
On the first night of the NCAA tournament, 15 seed Saint Peter’s University shocked the world and eliminated 2 seed Kentucky in the round of 64. With that in mind, let’s dig into the Vault and revisit some other great 15-2 upsets
Also, that Santa Clara point guard looks familiar? I wonder whatever happened to him...
More reading: Blazer’s Edge
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Portland Trailblazers Game Notes - Portland Trailblazers
- Struggling Blazers could help Nets ease home ills - Larry Fleisher - STATS
- Portland visits Brooklyn, aims to break road losing streak - AP
- Nets’ Goran Dragic continuing to thrive at point guard - Mark W. Sanchez - New York Post
- Nets’ playoff hopes could be aided by ex-teammates Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert - Mark W. Sanchez - New York Post
- Spencer Dinwiddie’s game-winner reminds the Nets of their uncertainty at point guard - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- The rise of Anfernee Simons, Part 3: From promising talent to potential franchise cornerstone ‘continuing to chase greatness’ - Aaron Fentress - The Oregonian