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Nets head to Memphis for primetime matchup against Grizzlies

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New York Knicks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Make it happen. The Brooklyn Nets played host to the Utah Jazz on Monday night as they closed out their four game homestand. It got slightly worrisome late, but the Nets put on a second half masterclass on their way to a much needed victory. The team has won six out of their last seven games and are starting to get in gear at the right time.

The opponent tonight will be the Memphis Grizzlies. Taylor Jenkins and company have had a breakout season and have been one of the most joyous, exciting teams in sports this year. They’ve been off the past few days after beating the Houston Rockets by 24 points on Sunday evening in Houston. The Grizz are in great position to lock up the second seed

Where to follow the game

YES Network and ESPN on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 7:30 p.m.

Injuries

No Joe Harris, LaMarcus Aldridge or Ben Simmons. Andre Drummond missed Monday’s game with a non-COVID illness. He’s not listed on the injury report so he’ll be good to go. Seth Curry exited Monday’s game with a left ankle sprain and is listed as questionable. Goran Dragic is listed as doubtful with left knee soreness. Kyrie Irving, of course, is eligible. It’s a road game. He also turns 30 today.

Killian Tillie is out. Ja Morant sat out Sunday’s game with right knee soreness. He will be out for tonight’s contest as well.

The game

Memphis won the first matchup in January.

It’s a primetime affair with the world watching, and the odds are in Brooklyn’s favor with Ja out. Even without Morant, the Nets have to make sure they stay locked in and give a full, 48 minute effort.

It’s a big day for the Grizzlies franchise as ESPN is rolling out the red carpet for this one. All of their NBA programs are in town and the team will be getting the all-access treatment. ESPN NBA executive David Roberts spoke to Commercial Appeal and said:

“It’s going to be a major, major event. You’ll find elements throughout the major shows. That access is just going to be something fans want to see. This is going to be an opportunity for us to highlight the next generation of stars in the NBA.”

The NBA is in great hands going forward.

Having Drummond back tonight will be huge for the Nets. The Grizzlies lead the NBA in rebounding and in the first meeting between the teams, won the rebounding battle by 28. That was led by Steven Adams, who is a bruiser on the inside and can do things like this

If you ever need a bouncer, we know a guy.

In the meantime, Drummond and Nic Claxton will look to control the boards. Claxton outplayed Rudy Gobert on Monday night and had one of his best games of the season. Clax has been a revelation in the month of March and the Nets bigs will have to work really hard to keep Adams and friends off the glass. Blake Griffin is always ready to chip in when his number’s called, which is always valuable for a team like this.

With Morant out, Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane will pick up the scoring slack. They’re second and third on the team in scoring respectively and for Bane in particular, his 41.8 percent from three-point range leads the team and is one of the best in the league.

Get ready to run. The Grizzlies are fourth in the NBA in pace since the break and the Nets have made it a point to speed things up and get more points in transition. Should make for an exciting night.

Generally speaking, I would advise you to take your birthday off. It’s a special day for you to reflect on your journey over the past year, take a look at the relationships in your life, and figure out where your life is headed from here. Why let work get in the way of that? However, Kyrie Irving doesn’t have many regular season games left to play and he’s been off for the past week so he’ll be on the court tonight celebrating his 30th birthday with us. When we last saw Irving, he put on a 60 point basketball clinic against the Orlando Magic last week. With Dragic and Curry both less than 100 percent and two days off before the game against the Miami Heat on Saturday night, Steve Nash and friends can push the birthday boy a little bit harder and put some more on his shoulders. Irving’s ability to create something out of nothing ensures that he’ll get a good shot attempt every time he has the ball in his hands. With today being such a special day, look for him to show out just a little bit more.

Player to watch: Jaren Jackson, Jr.

We’ll get a showcase for a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He’s first in the league in blocks and is holding opponents to only 41.4 percent shooting from the field when he is guarding them. He’s a good rim protector and can guard out in space which makes him such a unique option on that side of the ball.

Before Monday’s game, Kevin Durant spoke about the Nets, the future, and things of that nature and said:

Seeing how we can build something sustainable for more than just a year or two or three. I know I’m getting old, but I feel like I’m mentally and physically in a solid space to contribute to an organization that’s ready to grow and reach new heights.

“I’m not guaranteeing that we got a championship. But I just like what we’re building,” the 33-year-old said. “And I’m not going to say this is the only year we’ve got an opportunity to fight and work towards something. I don’t think next year we’ve got to start all the way over and try to figure out what’s the next iteration of the Nets.

KD is that guy now and forever.

In the meantime, he’ll look to put together another ace outing. Durant has shot over 50 percent from the field in six out of the last seven games. As it so happens, the Nets have won those games he’s been above 50 percent. KD had a rough outing against Memphis the first time around as he went 8-24 from the field, his second worst shooting outing of the season. When Durant is locked in, the Nets are impossible to stop and with the playoffs essentially starting now for Brooklyn, look for KD to make his mark.

From the Vault

It’s Memphis Day, so let’s bump some Ball and G to get the day moving.

And you can never go wrong with Memphis hoops either

More reading: Grizzly Bear Blues

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