So, I’m currently out of town visiting family. It’s been nice and I treated myself to the Indiana Pacers vs. Charlotte Hornets game on Wednesday night. Since I was out, I didn’t get to see that much of the Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks affair at the ‘clays. So when I saw the box score and the recap from my main man Lucas Kaplan:
The end to Wednesday’s game wasn’t chippy, it wasn’t competitive, it certainly didn’t feel like a rivalry. It was just garbage time. It felt more sad than anything.
that let me know disaster struck at Barclays. The losing streak is at four games. Ouch. Even the normally even-keeled Mikal Bridges, stuck in his own slump, took note on Twitter...
What a shitty week— Mikal Bridges (@mikal_bridges) December 21, 2023
It doesn’t get any easier tonight. The Denver Nuggets keep chugging along and are trying to go back-to-back. The Toronto Raptors gave the champs a workout, but Denver did just enough to hang on and win on Wednesday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.
No Ben Simmons or Lonnie Walker IV. Dennis Smith Jr is probable as he’s been out with an upper back strain.
Aaron Gordon is probable with a right heel strain. Vlatko Cancar is out recovering from left knee surgery.
Denver won the first meeting.
Another day where we get to watch the Joker work his magic. Nikola Jokic is a man possessed and has the chance to win another MVP award. The big guy is third in assists, second in rebounding, and is 12th in scoring. What makes his scoring so difficult to handle is he can punish you in a variety of ways
As Joe Wolfond of The Score writes:
“Because of how deadly he is as both a scorer and passer on the roll, and because it’s completely untenable to switch a smaller player onto him, defenses now often employ a “don’t leave Jokic” tactic when he screens for teammates, keeping his primary defender glued to him even if it means giving the ball-handler an open driving lane. He’s almost gotten to Curry’s level of warping the court and facilitating ultra-efficient offense without even touching the ball.”
The man can do it all and it’s a pleasure to watch one of the game’s greatest big man work. It won’t be a pleasure for the Nets bigs to defend him tonight. Nic Claxton had a subpar outing by his standards and the Nets are going to need him and Day’ron Sharpe to match the Joker’s physicality and toughness on the inside. A matchup like this should give them the juice they need to bring the requisite level of energy and intensity for this contest.
Jokic is always looking to make the right pass in transition, and for a Nets team that suddenly forgot how to play transition defense, this can be a big problem. For the talent that is on the roster, it was safe to assume the Nets would be pretty solid on defense. Guess we were wrong.
We’ve talked about Mikal Bridges’ ability to bounce back before, and he’s going to need to rely on that in a major way tonight. Bridges had arguably his worst game of the season on Wednesday and just could not get things going despite his best efforts. He’ll need to continue attacking the basket and build his game out from there. The best players keep shooting and trying to remain as confident as possible. A game like this will be a great opportunity for him to regain his footing and get back in the right direction.
Player to watch: Jamal Murray
It’s always good to head back home. After the game on Wednesday wrapped up, Jamal Murray discussed getting back to full strength and the possibility of playing for Team Canada in the 2024 Olympics in Paris:
“I’m still trying to get there (to the level I want to play at),” the Nuggets point guard said. “Obviously I’ve been in and out of the lineup. Just trying to get my body right. I’ve been on a minutes restriction for a while now. So just trying to build my way up and stay healthy for the remainder of the season. It’s been a rocky beginning, but I think we’re on the right track.”
The former All Star has been bothered by injuries throughout the year, but he’s stuck with it and is averaging around 18 points and five assists a night on .452/.432/.921 shooting splits. Murray has the ability to take over games late and is someone you can count on in the clutch to make something happen. With this being the first leg of a back-to-back and three games in four days stint, we’ll see how long he’s out on the court tonight.
Spencer Dinwiddie is going to need to make sure the team has the right energy coming out the gate. The Nets have come out flat in their past few games, and you can’t afford to do that when you’re on a losing streak. When he’s at his best, he can strike the perfect blend between scoring and distributing. Against a Nuggets team in the last parts of a road trip, it would behoove the Nets to start this one off strong.
From the Vault
Earlier this week, Scarface blessed NPR Tiny Desk with a wonderful performance. There are so many bangers we can pull up, so I’ll go with some joints that weren’t in the concert
More reading: Denver Stiffs,
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Denver Nuggets Game Notes - Denver Nuggets
- Denver puts road win streak on the line against Brooklyn - AP
- Jacque Vaughn considering lineup changes in Nets starting lineup - Peter Botte - New York Post
- Mikal Bridges’ slump hitting hard in midst of Nets’ skid - Peter Botte - New York Post