Oh boy. It’s been a rough week for the Brooklyn Nets, and they had a chance to right the ship to a degree on Friday night against the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately for the hometown faithful, the Nets made critical errors down the stretch that proved to be too much to overcome. As a result, the Nuggets handed the Nets their fifth straight loss. No time to wallow in it as this is night two of a home back-to-back for the Nets.
The opponent tonight has fallen upon hard times. To say it’s been rough for the Detroit Pistons is the understatement of a lifetime. They haven’t won a game since October and after their loss to the shorthanded Utah Jazz on Thursday night, the losing streak is up to 25 games. It got worse from there. We’ll get into that in a bit.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET.
Ben Simmons spoke with the media prior to yesterday’s game, but there’s no timetable on his return. Lonnie Walker IV is close, but not yet.
Jalen Duren is doubtful with a left ankle sprain. Monte Morris is out with a right quadriceps strain. Killian Hayes is probable with an illness.
So, we mentioned things got worse for the Pistons on Thursday night. How much worse did it get?
Sheesh. Those chants were directed at Pistons owner Tom Gores, and it’s been a rough time with him being the guy in charge. Last month, Brady Fredericksen of Detroit Bad Boys wrote:
“Aside from a few mediocre seasons, the Pistons have done nothing but lose since Gores purchased them in 2011, compiling at 388-654 (.372 winning percentage) record as owner. He’s willing to spend, but he doesn’t spend right. He’s never put the right kind of people in charge and he chases star coaches because, for all the billions of dollars he has, his team is repulsive to any star player.
Gores is never going to get what he wants out of the Pistons. He’s a Michigan-born guy who lives a Hollywood life in Los Angeles. He knows what the Buss’ family has with the Lakers and what Steve Ballmer has with the Clippers. He also knows that since 2020, like all NBA teams, the Pistons valuation has grown. In his case, it’s 78%.
And after 12 years, he has these Pistons, a terrible team that is starting to feel like it’s two years away from being two years away from the playoffs. Even if he cares just a little, this experience cannot be at all fulfilling.”
Man. For the fans in Detroit have been through a lot. When the team you root for just isn’t able to put it together on the court, it’s deflating as heck. And when it appears management isn’t doing enough to invest in the on court product, it makes you not want to tune in or follow the team. Sustained losing chips away at fan interest and next thing you know, no one’s going to be there when you make it back to respectability.
Off the court, Marvin Bagley had the biggest win of 2023 for the folks in Detroit:
#Pistons center Marvin Bagley III announces that he and Alec Burks (who couldn’t be in attendance) have partnered with Michigan First Credit Union to pay off every loan (totaling more than $80,000) for approximately 18 families during the holiday season. pic.twitter.com/mXN4YxZyoo— Mike Curtis (@MikeACurtis2) December 21, 2023
It’s wonderful when the hometown team is an active part of the community.
When you’re facing a team on a really long losing streak, you never wanna be the team that takes the L. There’s an unspoken pressure when you’re on the other side and as players, they don’t want to take a loss like that. And for a Nets team that has taken some awful losses this year, this would be the cherry on top.
Joey Buckets is back in town
We’ll be seeing an old friend tonight. Joe Harris is back in town after seven years with the Nets. In that time, Harris established himself as one of the best 3-point shooters in the league. Despite some tough times this season — he’s shooting only 29.2% from deep — he remains the fourth best 3-point shooter in NBA history at 43.6%, behind only Steve Kerr, Hubie Green and Drazen Petrovic. And his 44.0% as a Net remains the team’s best ever (Just ahead of Petrovic’s 43.7.)
If he does check in, he should get a nice ovation from the fans at Barclays and no doubt a nice tribute video. Harris was a favorite not just of fans, but team executives and staff. And recently, he proved he still has the competitive spirit.
Respect to Joe Harris. Joel Embiid is pushing the break, the Pistons have lost 21 straight games, down 30, he barely plays and he stared down the middle of the barrel and took a charge.— James L. Edwards III (@JLEdwardsIII) December 16, 2023
Harris is part of a Pistons bench that has not been able to make anything good shake, and as they try to figure things out, addressing that will be a priority.
We’ll also be seeing one of his former Nets teammates as well. Bojan Bogdanovic has been around the league for a while and was a solid member of the Nets from 2014-2017. He’s bounced around a bit and is someone to keep an eye on at the trade deadline. In the meantime, Mikal Bridges will look to outplay Bogdanovic tonight. As Bridges goes, so goes the Nets. The Nets need him to be on his game and attacking the basket as much as he can so he keeps the Pistons on their heels.
Player to watch: Cade Cunningham
Being the franchise player when your team is in the dumps must be the worst feeling in the world. The weight of the world is on your shoulders, you have to be the one to carry your team to victory, and when things don’t go well, everyone’s pointing in your direction. And when you’re 22 years old, that pressure can be insurmountable. That’s where 22 year old Cade Cunningham finds himself as he tries to pull the Pistons out of the abyss
Cade Cunningham came back from a season-ending injury of a team that won 17 games to a team that somehow looks WORSE and Pistons fans are chanting "Sell The Team" chants over decisions that have caused over a decade of frustration.— Kofie.bsky.social (@Kofie) December 22, 2023
I feel so bad https://t.co/FQKiLy4gD2
Ah man. The potential is there for Cunningham and despite all the troubles on the roster, he still has the potential to break through and take a big step forward
He’s shot above 45% from the field in each of the past three games. Monty Williams and the Pistons coaching staff will need to get him more space so he has more room to drive and he has more room to get passes through.
Spencer Dinwiddie will need to drive, drive, drive. When he’s assertive and making his way to the basket, the Nets offense is much better and more dynamic. When you can credibly get to the basket, it opens up the 3-pointers the Nets love to fire up. It also gets you free throw attempts, an area the Nets are completely deficient in. Luckily for the Nets, the Pistons have the second highest opponent free throw rate in the NBA this year, so if the Nets play their cards right, they’ll live at the charity stripe. Having Dennis Smith Jr. back also gives the Nets a much needed dose of athleticism and shiftiness in the backcourt. Considering where the Nets are right now, they’re going to need all the help they can get.
From the Vault
Christmas Day is on Monday, so let’s pull up one of my favorite Christmas jams!
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Detroit Pistons Game Notes - Detroit Pistons
- What the Nets need to figure out in what’s left of this reset season ($) - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Pistons owner Gores apologizes to fans, vows changes: ‘We have to right the ship’ ($) - Detroit News