Whew! The Brooklyn Nets had another nailbiter of a game, this time against the Chicago Bulls. It came down to the final seconds, but they did just enough to survive and escape with a 109-107 win. It was a Tournament game and the Nets are 1-0 in their group.
Good teams win. Great teams win by a lot. And for the Boston Celtics, they’ve been winning by a whole lot this week. The C’s have been off after they rocked the Indiana Pacers by 51 points on Wednesday night. That’ll make the net rating look extra pretty!
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 8 PM.
No Cam Johnson. We’ll see if Nic Claxton makes his return tonight. It is unlikely, says Jacque Vaughn. Ben Simmons coming off his long rehab following May 2022 back surgery is resting.
Neemias Queta is out with right foot injury management. Derrick White is out for personal reasons, likely for the birth of his next child.
The C’s are a lot different from when we last saw them. For starters, they’ve got a new man in the middle. Kristaps Porzingis came over from the Washington Wizards over the summer and has been fitting in so far. KP has averaged 18 points, seven rebounds, and 1.5 blocks a night through his first few games. Porzingis’ size poses a tough challenge for the Nets who might be without Claxton again. Dorian Finney-Smith has filled in admirably and can be counted on to bring toughness and physicality on the inside.
The Nets perimeter defense will need to have a big outing against one of the league’s very best players. Jayson Tatum has gradually gotten better since he came into the league way back in 2017 and is a consistent contender for MVP. Tatum can do practically everything on the court and his size poses matchup nightmares for opponents. Until Nets decided to rest Simmons, we hoped we’d see how Jacque Vaughn deployed Ben Simmons. Simmons has been able to jump start the Nets offense in transition, but is prone to inopportune fouls. Brooklyn will now he looking at who else on the roster can fuel the offense.
If the game is close late, the Nets will climb on Mikal Bridges’ shoulders. Missed free throw aside, Bridges has made the right plays on both sides of the ball and made sure to find success within the flow of the Nets offense. He’s always on the go and that movement gets him good looks when defenders take their feet off the gas:
Fancy shot on a fancy court! Boston has a bunch of people they can throw at Bridges, and we’ll see plenty of Jaylen Brown on the Nets star. Like Tatum, Brown continues to improves and will be trusted to finally take Boston over the top.
The game will be the first of the organization’s “Best of Brooklyn” nights. The court and uniforms will both be KAWS-inspired, a chance to get a good read on how both look.
Player to watch: Jrue Holiday
The other big off-season acquisition will look to take Boston to higher heights. Holiday came over from the Portland Trailblazers (by way of the Milwaukee Bucks) the day before media day. Holiday jump starts the Celtics defense and as Trevor Haas wrote over at Celtics Blog following the trade:
“Holiday is a guy who brings Smart-like focus and defensive intensity. He carries himself like Al Horford on and off the court and is widely respected as a veteran leader. He can play point guard or shooting guard, is an excellent passer and playmaker and can create his own shot. When Tatum and Brown need a lift, he’ll provide it. When they’re cooking, he’ll get them the rock.
You don’t just coincidentally win Teammate of the Year three out of four seasons. That’s a heck of an accomplishment and shouldn’t be taken for granted.”
True indeed. Holiday gives Boston one more plus defender that can guard multiple positions and be counted on to make timely plays in the clutch.
Ball handling is critical going up against a team like Boston, and having Spencer Dinwiddie back will go a long way. Din came back from his ankle sprain and handed out nine assists to only two turnovers in 30 minutes. If he plays, we’ll see how long he’s out there for. If he doesn’t play much or at all, the guard depth of the Nets will pick things up. Lonnie Walker IV and Dennis Smith Jr have done well in their roles and will look to bring that energy when they get on the court tonight. When you’ve been away from home for a week, you tend to have a little extra bounce in your step when you see all the friendly faces in the crowd.
From the Vault
Last night was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and two of the inductees this year were Missy Elliot and Chaka Khan! They’ve got bangers for centuries, so let’s pull up two of them before we hit the road.