Stopping a losing streak before things spiral out of control is so important.
On Friday night, the Golden State Warriors went into Cleveland to face the Cavaliers. The defending NBA champs were shorthanded as they played a tough overtime contest against the Boston Celtics the night before and sat four starters out. It looked like a sure loss. However, the guys who did suit up shocked the hell out of everybody and came away with an improbable road victory. Strength in numbers and all that.
Where to follow the game
YES Network for the locals. NBATV for the rest of y’all. WFAN on radio. Primetime affair so we getting started after 8:30 PM.
No Kevin Durant. TJ Warren is probable with a right knee contusion.
Andre Iguodala is out with right hip soreness. James Wiseman is out with a left ankle sprain. Anthony Lamb is questionable with left foot soreness.
Brooklyn won the first meeting in December.
Steve Kerr made an interesting lineup change recently. In the game against the Celtics, he inserted Jordan Poole into the starting five in favor of Kevon Looney. In the postgame, he explained the thinking behind it:
“Just wanted to open up the floor, give us a little different look, maybe get a spark. We’re past the halfway point, and we’re .500. Let”s try something different. First time in a while we’ve had all those guys healthy, too. It’s a lineup that we know can be explosive, but against Boston in particular you’ve gotta open up the floor. They got a big frontline, big wings, so it just felt like we could possibly get a little boost from it.”
The Warriors are able to play a completely spaced out game and force you to defend them from everywhere on the court. They are first in three point attempts at almost 44 a game and are fifth in efficiency at 37.7 percent. Poole gives the starting five another player that can heat up at a moment’s notice and bury teams. He’s one of their stars of the future and someone who can lessen the workload of the older stars on the team.
The Warriors don’t get to the rim very often (last in field goal attempts inside the restricted area at 20 per game), and that may prove to be the wisest strategy tonight. Nic Claxton has been a man possessed and has been one of the league’s best rim protectors. Clax picked up four more blocks on Sunday, and in the process tied Shawn Bradley’s record of games with three or more blocks at 11. He does it again tonight and the record is all his. The Warriors will deploy Kevon Looney to wrestle with Claxton on the boards and on the other side, will try to draw him away from the basket. Luckily for the Nets, Claxton is more than capable of handling switches and operating on the perimeter. It will make for a fun chess match.
The Nets regained their rhythm from downtown on Friday, and that will be essential tonight. Joe Harris and Seth Curry went a combined 5-12 from deep on Friday night, and Jacque Vaughn has stressed the importance of taking more three pointers to (try to) offset the absence of KD. He’s going to need his guys locked in from deep early and often.
It’s really surprising just how dreadful the Warriors are away from home. Their road wining percentage is only .250, which is third worst in the league. With the Western Conference being as jam packed as it is from the fifth seed all the way down to the 13th, they will have to get some road Ws if they want to make it back to the playoffs and properly defend their title.
Who will Ben Simmons defend tonight? All signs point to him getting the Andrew Wiggins assignment as Wiggins is the second scoring option on the Warriors. It’s been a struggle for the former All Star since his return from an adductor injury, as he’s averaging only 14 points a night on .354/.235/.500 shooting splits. His return to form will go a long way in getting the Warriors back into the top six of the conference and out of the play in seeds.
On the other side, the Nets need Simmons to keep pushing the issue and being aggressive. When he settles or is passive, the team flounders and he becomes almost unplayable. One encouraging thing about his game on Friday was that he only committed one foul in 36 minutes. Simmons often commits bad fouls when he’s setting bad screens or being overly handsy on defense. It’s up to him to stay locked in and make winning plays. The Warriors play at the fastest pace in the NBA, so tonight would be a great time for Simmons to get out in transition and attack the basket.
Player to watch: Stephen Curry
At a certain point, you run out of ways to describe how exceptional Curry is. When you reach that level, you’re in rarified air. Curry has been back for about two weeks after a shoulder injury kept him out for a while. The shooting numbers aren’t where they usually are (.422/.338/.875 splits), but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a threat from anywhere in the state...
STEPH AT THE BUZZER FROM HALF-COURT— NBA (@NBA) January 20, 2023
WARRIORS LEAD AT THE HALF ON TNT pic.twitter.com/optksxdfib
Yeah man. The Warriors have two days off after this before welcoming their nemeses, the Memphis Grizzlies, to town, so Steph can afford to exert a little more energy tonight to make life hectic for the Nets.
Kyrie Irving picked a great time to break out of his slump. He scored a season high 48 points on 18-29 from the field and 8-15 from deep. Not to be outdone, he tied a career high in rebounds with 11, handed out six assists, and snagged four steals. It was the first time he had shot above 45 percent from the field since the win vs. the Miami Heat on January 8. As it happens, that was the last win before the losing streak. Surely he can’t have a scoring run like that every game, but the Nets will need him to be efficient and aggressive when he’s on the court. When he’s heading downhill, he can twist, turn, and score over anybody
That’s what he needs to do.
From the Vault
It’s Royal Rumble week! The big matches are this weekend, so let’s take a trip back in time to Ric Flair’s greatest hour
More reading: Golden State of Mind
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Golden State Warriors Game Notes - Golden State Warriors
- Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry in spotlight as Nets visit Warriors - STATS
- Brooklyn visits Golden State following Irving’s 48-point game - AP
- The astonishing two-way rise of Nets’ ‘more imposing’ Nic Claxton: new shot profile and leap in blocks - Greg Joyce - New York Post Sports+
- Kyrie Irving coming on strong as Nets adjust to life minus Kevin Durant - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets offense thrives after Ben Simmons is taken off the ball - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Stephen A. Smith: Ben Simmons is ‘stealing money’ from Nets - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets snap Durant-less losing streak in Utah: ‘I felt like we grew as a squad’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Warriors must remember their dynasty wasn’t launched beyond the 3-point line - Bruce Jenkins - San Francisco Chronicle