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Brooklyn Nets vs. Washington Wizards preview: Nets look for a W before hitting road

Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Thrillers are always enjoyable. The Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks played another game that went down to the final seconds. This time, things broke the right way for the Nets as they escaped Georgia with a one point victory on Wednesday night.

The opponent tonight is looking to bounce back. The Washington Wizards faced the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, but were on the receiving end of a Joel Embiid 50 point demolition derby as he handed the Wiz a tough loss.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET. Vince Carter, the YES Network’s newest analyst and Nets legend, joins with Ian Eagle on the call. It’s VC’s debut.

Injuries

No Ben Simmons or Lonnie Walker IV.

Johnny Davis is out with a left calf strain. Daniel Gafford is questionable with a left ankle sprain. Ryan Rollins is out with a right knee strain. Landry Shamet is out with a right rib sprain. Delon Wright is out with a left knee sprain.

The game

Brooklyn won the first contest.

Assuming Gafford is out, the Wizards have one fewer option to deal with Nic Claxton. Clax only scored four points on Wednesday, but he did other things as he grabbed ten rebounds and handed out four assists in 28 minutes. His activity and presence creates so much for the Nets and with this being the last home game before everybody heads West, look for him to make a big impact.

Jordan Poole is gonna keep shooting. JP is at his lowest shooting percentages since his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors back in 2019. When you’ve been struggling in the ways that he has, you’ve got to keep active and hope that he finds his way. In the meantime, he’ll have to deal with Mikal Bridges. Bridges was a machine in the clutch on Wednesday as his ten points (and game winner!) paced the Brooklyn attack. The great thing about Bridges is we get to see him hunt for his shot more and more, and that will only make him better the deeper we go into the season. Aside from the scoring, we saw something pretty encouraging as Collin Helwig pointed out:

Fresh off a three-block game vs the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Bridges was at it again tonight. He only finished with one rejection, but if you re-watch the contest, you’ll see he got up to contest shots at a higher capacity than usual for a second straight game.

With Bridges reminding everyone why he finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting two seasons ago, Nic Claxton doing Nic Claxton things, and Dennis Smith Jr. returning to action (more on him later), the Nets might be planting the seeds for a much needed defensive renaissance.

Baby steps.

Cam Thomas had his first awful game in a while, but that’s bound to happen to the best of us. Even with that, he made two big baskets in the fourth quarter and stuck with it even though he had trouble with the Hawks defense. The biggest sign of growth is how you handle things when you have a setback. It’s one thing to be super confident when you’re up. When you’re down and struggling, how you handle those moments and bounce back can teach you even more about yourself.

Player to watch: Kyle Kuzma

Somebody had to be the focal point of the offense. Kuzma has accepted that responsibility and it’s been working for him. He’s averaging a career high in field goal attempts, and he’s paid it off with career highs in field goal percentage (47.3 percent) and points per game (23.2 a night). It

Cam Johnson continues to find his way. Beyond the hits from three point range, CJ has been having success at the rim and helping out on the glass. It also helps when you can do this

Johnson continues to play well and his size and length should pose trouble for Kuzma.

From the Vault

Happy belated birthday to Sabrina Ionescu!

And welcome to the Nets broadcast booth, Vince Carter!

More reading: Bullets Forever, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Wiz of Awes