Woof. It had been over three years since the New York Knicks last beat the Brooklyn Nets. Rain or shine, you could always count on the Nets beating their crosstown rivals. Eventually, it was bound to end and boy did it ever on Monday night. The Nets were close for a half, but a bad third quarter doomed them and the Knicks wound up beating them by 18 points. The L snapped the Nets’ nine-game winning streak against the Knicks. It was bound to happen.
The Miami Heat are within striking distance and are only a few games behind Brooklyn for the fifth seed. However, the Knicks are hot on their heels and only one half game behind their hated rivals. The Heat lost a close one at home to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30.
All clear for Brooklyn. No, really.
Omer Yurtseven, Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, Nikola Jovic, and Tyler Herro are out. Duncan Robinson is questionable but will likely play his first game since December.
Brooklyn won the first meeting in January. That game will go down in infamy as Kevin Durant’s last game played as a member of the Nets. Such is life.
This might have huge consequences towards the end of the season. These teams are neck and neck in the Eastern Conference standings and the final meeting of the season will be on March 25 in Miami.
The Nets will look to slow Jimmy Butler down. Although he wasn’t named to the All-Star Game, he’s definitely excited to get some much needed rest and relaxation. He’s carried things for the team and if the game is close late, you can count on him to make a big play. Mikal Bridges will likely get the assignment on JB tonight. Bridges didn’t have the greatest of games at MSG on Monday, but nobody on the Nets did so it’s whatever. The Nets are trying to figure who should be the lead creator on offense, and Bridges is a great candidate for that job. His two way ability will be a boon for this team and as the Nets start to figure out roles, Bridges should be featured as much as possible in the offensive attack.
Miami’s lack of success from three point range has been incredibly detrimental to their chances this season. They’re ninth in three point attempts, but only 28th in efficiency. They need Robinson and Herro to find their 2020 form from deep if they want to make it back to the NBA Finals. The Nets have the advantage from deep and should look to fire away from deep as much as possible.
The Heat didn’t do much during trade season, and that could represent the league catching up to them. Over at Hot Hot Hoops, Matt Hanifan wrote about the team and said:
Each circumstance is different. But when Riley’s fishing for the whale or a bigger name, it’s harder to convince other organizations to take on your assets that you’ve squeezed every last bit of juice out of. Miami — like other organizations — likely value (most of) their players more than other teams do, hence why they’ve retained most of them. And that’s reasonable, because if other organizations are openly willing to trade a player to you, it’s more than fair if you’re first instinct is, “Why?”
All that said, is it crazy to believe that some of the other front offices are catching on to Miami’s track record of developing talent with drop-offs appearing elsewhere? No, it’s not. It all depends on the situations the players fall into, but there’s certainly a track record there.
Never thought of it that way.
The job for everyone on the court is to make it to the break healthy. With a week off following tonight, you want to make it out in one piece so you can get to heal up and be ready to go full throttle in March and April.
Brooklyn needs to speed things up tonight. Miami is 28th in pace, so you know they like to be deliberate on offense. For Brooklyn, they will need to get into their sets quickly and keep the Heat on their heels. If they keep the tempo where they like it, they’ll be able to press the issue and keep the fans fully invested in the game.
Monday was not Ben Simmons’ finest hour. He only played 13 minutes and had a 2/3/2 line. His evening ended with this particularly gnarly sequence
Josh Hart picks this off with 4 defenders in front of him and none of them thought to stop him pic.twitter.com/dn8tUuADWm— Talkin’ Knicks (@TalkinKnicks) February 14, 2023
Sheesh. In postgame, Jacque Vaughn said he didn’t want Simmons out there as the lone big man. However, as my main man Matt Brooks pointed out, Simmons did play center with the reserves earlier this year. The Nets have work to do and Simmons will need to figure his role out, and fast.
Player to watch: Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo will be heading to Utah for the All-Star Game, and it’s a well deserved honor for the big guy. He’s averaging around 21 points and ten rebounds a night on 54 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line. Bam has had to do a lot more due to the injuries all across the Heat roster, but it’s worked for him. Stars always have to do more, and Adebayo has stepped his game up in a major way.
We mentioned the minutes earlier, and Claxton was a victim of that. He only played 23 minutes on Monday night, his lowest since the 36 point victory against the San Antonio Spurs on January 2. Clax has been one of the team’s best players this season and it’s up to the coaching staff to find a way to keep him on the court for as much as possible. The Nets are still the worst rebounding team in the NBA, so everyone else will have to help Claxton out on the boards and handle things when he’s switched on to perimeter players.
From the Vault
It’s All-Star weekend, so let’s throw it back to my favorite All-Star Game of all time
And shouts to Joe Harris...
More reading: Hot Hot Hoops
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Miami Heat Game Notes - Miami Heat
- Trailing Nets for fifth spot, Heat try to close narrow gap - STATS
- Butler and the Heat take on conference foe Brooklyn - AP
- ‘Three years of malfeasance’: Inside the demise of the Nets’ dysfunctional superteam - Brian Lewis - New York Post Sports+
- Kyrie Irving refuses to talk his Mavericks future: ‘Draining’ - Andrew Crane - New York Post
- Ben Simmons ripped by fans after passing on open layup - Noah Concordia - New York Post Sports
- The new Nets need to score more points - Denis P. Gorman - Newsday
- Remembering Dorian Finney-Smith’s 7 years in Dallas: ‘He had that shark mindset’ - Tim Cato - The Athletic
- Patty Mills feels good about new-look Nets’ postseason chances: ‘This is no doubt a playoff team’ - Ian Begley - SNY
- Heat’s Duncan Robinson could return Wednesday. And the area where Strus leads - Barry Jackson - Miami Herald