A close one, but not all the way there. The Brooklyn Nets took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night hoping to score an upset victory against a playoff contender. They hung around for much of the night and almost pulled off an improbable comeback late, but wound up falling short by four points at home. More on this in a few.
The opponent tonight finds themselves at a crossroads. The Chicago Bulls are firmly in the play-in race, but it feels like they’re miles away from entering that top tier of the Eastern Conference. Their playoff cause got hurt with a loss on the road to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
Where to follow the game
Same as Tuesday. YES Network and TNT on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.
No Seth Curry. Yuta Watanabe and Day’Ron Sharpe are questionable but Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith will be available. There’s a name missing, which we’ll get to in a second.
Lonzo Ball and Javonte Green are out. Alex Caruso is probable with left midfoot soreness. DeMar DeRozan is questionable with right hip soreness.
Around 1:00 a.m. ET AM, the Nets franchise and NBA was shaken to its core. That was the time we found out Kevin Durant (and TJ Warren) was traded to the Suns for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, and four unprotected first round draft picks and swap of firsts. There will be plenty of words to come on this move and everything else associated with it, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that this most of this era was a failure from beginning to end. There were so many tantalizing moments, but too much negativity that overwhelmed everything. C’est la vie.
I don’t know how a team is supposed to adapt when the franchise is gone, but that’s something Jacque Vaughn will have to figure out and fast.
Ben Simmons made his return on Tuesday, and he looked like a player coming back from injury. He had a 2/4/6 line with four turnovers in 27 minutes. For the Nets, the hope is the further removed he is from his injury woes, the more he may start to look like the player he was in the middle of the season prior to his injury. He explained as much after Tuesday’s game
“Back surgery is not a light thing so it takes time. Back surgery, you’re affected everywhere. Your knees. So it’s just something I gotta stay on top of. I’ve been saying it from the start. There’s gonna be ups and downs. I’m not going to be the same player I was a few years ago. That’s gonna take time to get back.”
He’s not wrong, however with Durant gone, ALL eyes will turn to him. It’s been a disappointing season for him and fans at the building will be restless if he makes mistakes.
Nic Claxton will have a battle on the interior with Nikola Vucevic. Vuc has made life hell on the Nets over the years and will look to own the boards tonight. For Claxton, he's grown leaps and bounds this season and has given Nets fans a sense of joy and excitement. The road going forward is cloudy, but his game will provide a sense of brightness for Nets fans.
Player to watch: Zach Lavine
It’s been a bumpy season for Lavine. The numbers aren’t bad as he's averaging around 23 points a game on .464/.375/.827 shooting splits, but the success hasn't been there for Bulls fans. He's been dealing with nagging injuries this year, and with the East opening up a bit, Bulls management hopes he can power them to a playoff spot.
Cam Thomas made a little more history on Tuesday night. He became the youngest player ever to score 40 points in three straight games, surpassing the record held by Allen Iverson. It's a big ask for a second year player to have the keys to the offense like this, but he'll have all the opportunities in the world to learn and develop on the job.
From the Vault
On Tuesday night, LeBron James surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and became the all time scoring leader in NBA history. Both men have authored many amazing playoff moments, especially when the stakes were at its highest
More reading: Blog a Bull
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Chicago Bulls Game Notes - Chicago Bulls
- Nets tangle with Bulls in Spencer Dinwiddie’s return - STATS
- Nets’ Cam Thomas seizing moment with Kyrie Irving gone - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Brooklyn Nets guard Cam Thomas is seizing his opportunity sans Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving - Marc J. Spears - Andscape