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Nets come home to face red hot Bucks

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2023 NBA All-Star - State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Photo by Tyler Kaufman/NBAE via Getty Images

Getting hit with a dagger is never fun. The Brooklyn Nets fought all the way back from down 18 points to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon, but Trae Young delivered the dagger with time expired as his buzzer beater handed the Nets a crushing defeat. The Nets are fighting for their playoff lives, and they are going to need to get some help and help themselves.

The opponent tonight is the hottest team in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks are charging up the Eastern Conference standings. They pushed their winning streak to 14 games after a great victory against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon. With their win and the Boston Celtics loss to the New York Knicks last night at MSG, the Bucks have moved in to first place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.


No Ben Simmons.

Giannis Antetokuonmpo has been bothered by a sore right wrist recently, but he missed Sunday’s game with a right quad contusion. The big fella is probable for tonight. Wesley Matthews is out.

The game

Milwaukee got game one in October while Brooklyn took game two in December.

The Bucks are under new management. On Monday, it was announced that Jimmy and Dee Haslam purchased a 25 percent stake in the team. For the NFL fans in the house, you may know the Haslams from their ownership of the Cleveland Browns. That... well, it’ll be interesting to say the least.

The Nets have one big man in the rotation. The Bucks are the second best rebounding team in the NBA. This is a recipe for disaster. It is going to take a total team effort for Brooklyn on the boards if they want to have a chance at pulling off the upset. With this being a back-to-back, we might see Day’Ron Sharpe come in to spell Nic Claxton and provide some more size at the center position.

Speaking of big guys, we get to see our old pal, Brook Lopez, tonight! Lopez is still one of the leaders in the defensive player of the year and is third in blocks per game. Lopez has grown into one of the best defensive bigs in basketball and someone you can trust late in close games.

As I was watching the first half of Sunday’s game, I had a flashback to the 2018-2019 Nets. Like that team, if the current day Nets aren’t hitting their threes, they’re toast. The coaching staff then as now is placing a high premium on threes, and the Nets have to work to attack the basket more. The offense can’t afford to settle and have to attack, attack, attack. Anything else is asking for trouble.

That attacking starts with Spencer Dinwiddie. He played much better after halftime on Sunday and had some great finishes at the basket. The Nets need him striking the perfect balance between aggression and setting his teammates up. He had some rough turnovers on Sunday afternoon,

Joining him will be Cam Thomas. At a certain point, Thomas’ scoring ability will become undeniable and he’ll be a full fledged member of the starting lineup rather than a microwave scorer off the bench. Thomas gave the Nets a jolt of energy with his 22 points and perhaps most importantly, going 9-9 from the free throw line. The Nets tend to settle for threes too much, and Thomas is someone that can operate from all three levels of the court. You need that balance and you need to put the ball in the hands of one of your best shot creators.

So, how do you slow down the two time MVP? Considering this is the first leg of a back-to-back for the Bucks, maybe minutes restrictions will do the trick. Barring that, it’s gonna be hell on Earth trying to stop Giannis Antetokuonmpo. The Greek Freak is back and one of the favorites to win the MVP. He’s averaging around 31 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists a night on 53.8 percent shooting from the field. He’s kept the team afloat as they’ve been shorthanded for much of the season and with the playoffs on the horizon, will be looming over the East. Dorian Finney-Smith figures to get the bulk of the assignment on Giannis as the team will presumably try to keep Claxton away from him so as to avoid foul trouble. The Nets have a lot of rangy defenders, and they’re all gonna get a work out tonight.

Player to watch: Jrue Holiday

It’s gonna be real difficult to keep Holiday off of the All-NBA team. Holiday got another well deserved All Star nod this year and was an Honorary Uce Antetokuonmpo at All Star Saturday night. Holiday loves to attack the defense and put pressure on opposing guards when he goes downhill. The Bucks can always count on him to take the opponent’s best perimeter player and lock them down. He does everything you need to win and his presence turns a great Bucks team and makes them perennial title contenders.

You’re starting to see more and more of Mikal Bridges’ toolkit on Sunday night as he had a 24/5/3/2/2 line on 50 percent shooting from the field and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. This basket was particularly groovy

More and more, the Nets can count on Bridges to get his own shot and make a positive play. The offense should go through him and his ability to create for himself will answer some questions the Nets need to answer as we wind this season down.

Not long ago, tonight would have been a mano-a-mano matchup between two of the best players in the NBA, but Kevin Durant got injured, then asked for a trade. Still, Antetokounmpo couldn’t resist taking a shot at Durant. During a live shot on the Daily Show, Giannis had this to say about KD...

From the Vault

With the three point revolution still ongoing, let’s take it back to the good old days and see Ray Allen set the Bucks record for threes in a game

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