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Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic preview: NBA Cup play comes to Brooklyn

The Nets unveil their NBA Cup court tonight as they welcome the Magic to Barclays

Orlando Magic v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

As long as you win, right? The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Washington Wizards in a matinee game at the Barclays on Sunday. To put it mildly, it was not the best game you’ve ever seen. However, the Nets did just enough to walk away with the victory. The team is now 5-5 on the season.

The opponent tonight is looking to put another good outing together. The Orlando Magic were at home on Saturday night and they knocked out the Milwaukee Bucks on the way to a wonderful victory. That’s a great way to head into a few days off.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.


No Cam Thomas. Ben Simmons is out as well. In postgame, Lonnie Walker IV revealed he’s been battling significant knee pain. He’s questionable with a left knee contusion.

Markelle Fultz is out with left knee tendinitis. Wendell Carter Jr. is out after recently fracturing his finger. Gary Harris Jr is questionable with a right groin strain.

The game

It’s a Tournament game so we get to see the Nets’ fancy new court!

The Nets played their first two Cup games on the road, and the last two will be at home. If they want to win their group, they’re going to need win out, win big, and hope the Boston Celtics lose twice. Good luck.

Nic Claxton is back, and not a moment too soon for the Nets. Clax got right back to business to the tune of ten points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks in just 28 minutes. Clax gives the Nets much needed size on the interior and someone that uplifts their defense. When the Nets get out in transition, Claxton’s ability to finish at the rim becomes even more valuable. Without Carter Jr, the Magic will turn to the duo of Goga Bitadze and Moritz Wagner at center. Hard to believe, but this is Wagner’s sixth season in the NBA. He’s carved out a nice role in Orlando and is a good rotation player to have on the roster. The interior duo has held it down in Carter Jr’s absence, as Alfred Ezman of Orlando Magic Daily noted:

“For the season, the Magic are giving up 57.5 percent shooting at the rim according to data from Second Spectrum. That is the third-best mark in the league. During the last four games, opponents have shot 62.5 percent at the rim, an expected dropoff considering how good Carter was at protecting the rim (opponents shot just 13 for 33 at the rim against Carter). But still among top 10 in the league in that time.”

That’s a good foundation.

Get to your spots. When one part of your game isn’t working, it’s important to get to the part of the court where you have most success. On Sunday, Mikal Bridges went a gnarly 2-14 from three point range. From two point range? A much better looking 9-15! With the game on the line, Bridges was able to get to the midrange and make something happen.

Without Thomas, Bridges will have to take a ton more shots. For the Nets, the hope is they get Bridges feeling as comfortable as possible so he can shoulder the workload on offense.

Mikal’s Team USA teammate will look to put on a show in this Tournament game. Paolo Banchero has taken a step forward and is averaging around 19 points, seven rebounds, and five assists on .473/.333/.667 shooting splits. During FIBA, we saw him play a little center, and that versatility can serve him well as he continues to develop.

So how are fans reacting to NBA Cup play. Sports Media Watch noted this on Monday...

The NBA In-Season Tournament topped the sports viewership charts on Friday as 1.93 million viewers tuned in for Lakers-Suns and 1.41 million watched Nets-Celtics. Compared to last year’s equivalent doubleheader, Lakers-Suns viewership increased 73% from Bucks-Timberwolves (1.12M) while Nets-Celtics declined 4% from Bulls-Celtics (1.47M).

Player to watch: Franz Wagner

The Magic are in position to make some noise in the future, and Wagner will be a big part of that. Wagner has turned out to be one of the best players from the 2020 Draft and is a building block for this Magic franchise. He’s adding more and more responsibilities each year and while his 3-point shooting has taken a dive so far this year, he should get back to where we’re used to seeing him pretty soon.

Also, he plays best in big games. Ask Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson who played against him in the FIBA World Cup. Wagner led the German national team to an undefeated record and the gold back in September while Team USA finished without gold, silver and bronze.

Johnson is back with Brooklyn after missing all of preseason and seven games. So, he’s trying to find that proper rhythm. Like everybody else who played on Sunday, his 3-point shot did not wake up in time for the afternoon tip and he went 2-11 from downtown. After the Boston game, Johnson talked about being better on defense and the Nets will need a big night from him on that end if they want to get another Tournament win.

From the Vault

I feel like listening to DJ Quik. You should too!

More reading: Orlando Magic Daily, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Orlando Magic HQ