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Brooklyn Nets vs. Phoenix Suns preview: Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson return to Phoenix

Kevin Durant’s status remains uncertain, but Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson will be on the court back in Phoenix

Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s never fun when you’re on the receiving end of a record-setting night. That’s what the Brooklyn Nets had to deal with on Monday night as the Sacramento Kings made a team record 25 three pointers en route to an easy win. No time for the Nets to feel bad for themselves as the road from here will get even tougher.

The opponent tonight is dealing with an issue Nets fans know all too well. The Phoenix Suns have three elite, all world perimeter scorers. However, we haven’t seen them all on the court at the same time. That trend continued last night after they avoided a last minute collapse against the Golden State Warriors and held on for a three point win.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 9:00 p.m. ET.

Injuries

No Ben Simmons, Lonnie Walker IV or Dennis Smith Jr.

Our main man Kevin Durant has been dealing with an ankle injury since the NBA Cup quarterfinals game vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s officially listed as day to day, but it looks like he’s likely to make his return on Friday against the New York Knicks. Bradley Beal just got back from his own injury, but the plan is for him to play tonight. We’ll see. Grayson Allen is likely out with a groin injury.

The game

Homecoming! Suns fans get to say hello to one of their favorites tonight as Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges are back in the Valley for the first time since the trade. CJ has started to find his groove in recent games and gives the Nets a much needed shot of energy from three point range. Suns fans got to grow with Johnson as his first season was during the pandemic season as his Phoenix team went undefeated in the bubble and set the stage for the path they’re on now. As our friends in Phoenix also know, Johnson is someone that is able to form relationships with fans and represents the team with pride and honor. You need good guys like that on the squad, and the Phoenix faithful will show their love for one of their favorites.

No clue if Durant plays so we’ll save all the Nets related business for when he comes back to Brooklyn at the end of January.

The Nets perimeter defense sprung a leak against the Kings and paid for it dearly. Even a minutes restricted Beal can punish them if they’re not careful. As Collin Helwig noted in his takeaways:

“While teams have not been hitting shots from deep as frequently, the Nets have been giving them away like handouts. When you do that and then face off against a team with shooting talent, you’re going to pay. That’s exactly what the Kings did to the Nets tonight — even at a historic rate.

Dennis Smith Jr. and Ben Simmons are missed, but you cannot rely on those two to save the day, especially Simmons. For as stout as Brooklyn’s been on the boards this year, they need to direct their attention back out to the paint, come with more disciplined close outs, and speed up their rotations or else this will kill them on this road trip.”

Better shape up, or else.

We’ll have more on this during the weekend, but for now let’s let Jusuf Nurkic explain the big news out of last night’s NBA action...

I mean, when you’re right, you’re right.

In the meantime, Nurkic will tussle with Nic Claxton on the inside and hopefully not take any more slaps to the dome. Nurk has been a solid fit for his new team thus far and has the perfect combination of physicality on the inside and good passing from the high post to give the Suns what they need at the center position.

Player to watch: Mikal Bridges

Homecoming! Mikal Bridges is back in Phoenix and after the trade, his old pal Devin Booker had this to say

That’s what’s up.

As fans celebrate the return of Mikal, we get to watch a star studded battle between he and Devin Booker. Bridges has been the man since coming to Brooklyn and has built on his excellence in Phoenix. Bridges’ story is one of persistence and growth as he has gotten better every step of the way.

On the other side, he’ll face off against one of the game’s brightest stars. The great thing about Book is he can get to his spot on the court any time he wants and make something happen:

When it’s time to go win the ballgame, you need someone you can trust to make the right decisions, be confident in what they’re doing, and always make the right plays to help the team. Booker has been magnificent and Suns fans are in for a treat every time he suits up. He’ll look to use that creativity and craftiness to shake past Bridges when he has the matchup on him. Mikal has talked about wanting to do more on defense to help the team. What better time than tonight against the best two guard in the league in your homecoming game? Gonna make for a fun, emotional night for everybody.

From the Vault

A double play with the twins!

More reading: Bright Side of the Sun, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Valley of the Suns