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Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks preview: Nets look to bounce back at home

The homestand continues for the Nets as it’s Dame Time in Brooklyn.

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Weight classes exist for a reason. The Brooklyn Nets learned that the hard way as the Boston Celtics proved to be way too much on Saturday night at Barclays Center. The loss dropped the Nets to 3-3 on the season.

The opponent tonight has big plans for this spring. The Milwaukee Bucks underwent a makeover and are hoping to make it back to the NBA Finals. They added a great victory to their ledger after winning a good battle against the New York Knicks on Friday night in Tournament play. Milwaukee is at 3-2 on the season.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET.

Injuries

Ben Simmons was out for the second night of a back-to-back maintenance and should be back tonight. No Cam Johnson. Nic Claxton is reported to have a high ankle sprain and presumably won’t be playing for a while. Lonnie Walker IV is probable with left knee soreness. Dariq Whitehead told our Jordan Greene he is progressing from off-season foot surgery and is now “75 to 80%” ready as he trains and practices on Long Island.

All clear for the Bucks.

The game

Defending Giannis Antetokuonmpo does not look like a good time. The Greek Freak has authored his own decade of destruction and will be near the top of the East for many more years to come. Giannis is always tough to deal with, and last year the Nets had some success when they had Claxton defend him. Assuming Clax is out again, Ben Simmons will be one of many that get the assignment of guarding Giannis as will Dorian Finney-Smith. DFS had another great game on Saturday night and his four three pointers helps space things out for the rest of his teammates.

The Nets need size to have a chance at bothering Antetokuonmpo, and Simmons will have to step up in a big way. On offense, he’ll be back to serving as the conductor of the offense. As Collin Helwig noted in his takeaways story following Saturday’s game:

It’s easy to look at Simmons’ 7/10/7 averages to start the year and think of him as a complimentary piece rather than a supporting pillar of this rotation, but the former couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s the conductor here and it was clear the Nets missed him both from an eye test view and box score standpoint.

Bouncing back from a rough game is always tough. That’s going to be the name of the game for Mikal Bridges after he went 7-of-20 from the field vs. the Celtics. The same can be said for Royce O’Neale, who went 2-of-15 from the field (2-of-13 from 3-point range). You need to have a short memory when it comes to games like that so look for Bridges and O’Neale to get back on the good foot. Having Simmons back could help make things a bit easier for them, too.

The Bucks defense has been pretty shaky to start the season under new head coach Adrian Griffin. They’re currently 25th in defensive rating, and as Dalton Sell of Behind the Buck Pass recently noted:

Milwaukee’s putrid paint defense is partially due to the defensive schemes and adjustments being made by Coach Griffin, which has put Brook Lopez in an odd spot. As he’s shown over the years, he is more built for drop coverage, which helped him finish second in the Defensive Player of the Year running last season. When they aren’t running that, it can make Lopez a weak link.

This is among the reasons why he played just a tick over 16 and a half minutes in the team’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. Griffin must find a way to utilize Lopez in a way that will help him be the best version of himself defensively to get the wheels turning. What he brings to the table is too valuable for him to be playing for less than 17 minutes.”

On Friday, the Bucks went back to playing Brook in the drop. What did he do? Oh, just block eight shots. When a new boss comes in, they always try to shake things up so they can place their imprint on the place. And naturally, things go back to their normal rhythm after that initial new supervisor glow. The NBA, just like your day job!

Player to watch: Damian Lillard

Moving to a brand new city after a decade in one place is such a tough transition. That’s what Damian Lillard had to do after he and the Portland Trailblazers split up. With a new coach, new system, and new teammates, it’s been a transition for Lillard in his new office. In five games thus far, he’s averaging around 23/5/5 on .414/.342/.936 shooting splits. He and Giannis have started to find their chemistry

We’ll see how they look when the Nets see Milwaukee after Christmas.

Spencer Dinwiddie will look to put another good game together. Dinwiddie gives the Nets someone else that can get downhill and set things up for his teammates. Brooklyn only turned it over five times, and when you can get shots up every possession, it ensures you’re always in a game.

From the Vault

Spending a little more time with this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, including George Michael and The Spinners!

More reading: Brew Hoop, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Behind the Buck Pass