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Brooklyn Nets vs Sacramento Kings preview: Nets head west to begin road trip

Nets want no part of the “beam” at the Garden 1 Center tonight, the first of a four-game West Coast road trip.

Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

A good way to leave home. The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Washington Wizards on Friday night and took care of business the right way. They treated the fans to a dominant second half and a comfortable 27 point victory.

The opponent tonight is looking to take that next step. The Sacramento Kings have followed up an excellent 2022-2023 season and have a great chance to make it into the top four of the Western Conference standings. They helped the cause with a solid road win against the Phoenix Suns on Friday night in the Valley.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Late night so the party’s getting started after 10:00 p.m. ET.

Injuries

No Ben Simmons, Dennis Smith Jr. or Lonnie Walker IV. Two-ways Jalen Wilson and Armoni Brooks joined the Nets in Sacramento last night after playing for the Long Island Nets yesterday afternoon.

Malik Monk is questionable with an illness. Colby Jones is questionable with lower back soreness. Alex Len is out with a right high ankle sprain.

The game

West Coast road trips are always a big test. You’re far from home, playing tough opponents, and adjusting to a new time zone. The Nets have a tough week ahead of them and these games will test where this team is.

The test will begin at the center position. Domantas Sabonis has been magnificent ever since he came over from the Indiana Pacers. Sabonis has worked as the fulcrum of Mike Brown’s attack and his ability to make the right pass allows the Kings to hurt you in a bunch of ways. He’s also a bear on the glass and is seventh in offensive rebounding (fourth in total rebounding). This will make for a fun matchup against Nic Claxton. Clax continues to be excellent on both sides of the ball, and Brooklyn will count on him to patrol the paint and battle Sabonis all game long.

When he does sit, Day’Ron Sharpe will come in and hope to keep the good vibes going. Sharpe has been a revelation this season and has shown himself to be a solid bench player that contributes good minutes. Expect Harry Giles III will get on the floor depending on circumstances. Giles who was drafted by the Kings in 2017 is still hugely popular in California’s capital city. He tweeted out his excitement about the return over the weekend.

The threes will fly tonight. Both teams are top ten in three pointers attempted per game. However, the Nets have had much better success from downtown. Brooklyn leads the NBA in three point percentage while Sacramento is 19th. This will be a fun, free flowing contest.

Assuming Monk is out or limited, the Kings will count on Kevin Huerter a bit more. Huerter starts, but Monk gets tons of minutes at shooting guard as well. Cam Thomas will look to have a better shooting night this time around. He’s struggled some the past two games, but his aggressiveness hasn’t waned at all.

Player to watch: De’Aaron Fox

It’s always a joy to watch players take that next step from stardom to something higher. That’s where DeAaron Fox finds himself these days as he’s been one of the best players in the NBA over the past two seasons. Over at The Kings Herald, Kevin Fippin spoke about the fantastic Mr. Fox:

With the addition of a reliable 3pt shot at significant volume, De’Aaron has become truly unguardable. The fastest player on the planet is now forcing defenders to pick their poison anytime he touches the basketball and there are just no answers for what he can do to a team on offense. He’s currently the 4th leading scorer in the league and I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him sitting at the number 1 or 2 spot at some point this season. When the ball is in his hands, he’s the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. He’s also taken a leap on the other side of the ball, as we’ve seen his defensive intensity and effectiveness ramp up to new levels. Whatever he did this off-season has unlocked something within him that very few players seem to find. Honestly, how many point guards in the league are playing at a higher level than De’Aaron right now? He’s made the leap no one outside of Sacramento believed he could make, and he’s a real deal SUPERSTAR.

And when you can bury threes at the clip he does, that makes his ability to break you down off the dribble that much more dangerous:

Yeah, that’s no fun to deal with.

Mikal Bridges has spoken about being a bit better on defense, and he’ll have a heck of a matchup to handle tonight. Bridges has been the lead option for the Nets and has maintained his efficiency while drawing more and more of the opponent’s attention. Look for Mikal and the Nets to try and attack the paint a ton. The Kings allow teams to shoot 68.9 percent inside the restricted area, fifth highest in the NBA this season. Attack, attack, attack!

From the Vault

The Los Angeles Lakers were in the NBA Cup Final on Saturday night and came away with the win. As our friends in Sacramento know, it’s always fun to go up against the Lakers in a high stakes game

More reading: The Kings Herald, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, A Royal Pain