Good days. The Brooklyn Nets started their five game road trip with a visit to the Houston Rockets. The Nets started slowly, but got on the good foot and cruised to a double digit victory on Tuesday night. The W was their third in a row and they are one game behind the New York Knicks for the fifth seed.
The opponent tonight is arguably the best team in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks currently sit atop the Eastern Conference. They beat the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and are starting to build a nice sized lead on the second place Boston Celtics.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 8:00 p.m. ET.
No Ben Simmons (left knee/back soreness) which we expected. On Wednesday afternoon, however, the Nets listed four other players as out for the first game of the back-to-back: Nic Claxton (right thumb sprain/left Achilles tendinopathy); Royce O’Neale and Cam Johnson (both left knee soreness); as well as Spencer Dinwiddie (rest.) David Duke Jr. and Dru Smith are expected to play for Long Island Thursday. That will leave 10 players available to Jacque Vaughn.
Jrue Holiday has been bothered by neck soreness and is out. Goran Dragic is out with knee soreness. Giannis Antetokounmpo was under the weather on Tuesday, and his status for tonight was up in the air until the early afternoon when he was declared out. Jae Crowder is day-to-day as well.
The threes will be flying tonight. The Bucks are fourth in 3-pointers attempted and the Nets are third in 3-point efficiency. Joe Harris in particular figures to be someone that will play a big role tonight. He’s made nine three pointers over the past three games, and if he’s able to keep consistently making his shots, it will open up the Brooklyn attack.
Also, expect Cam Thomas, Edmond Sumner and Nerlens Noel to get big minutes.
Noel looked pretty solid in his Nets debut. His presence will be crucial tonight as the Nets try to stay close to the Bucks on the boards. Milwaukee won the rebounding battle by 17 in the last meeting, and having more size against this team will help. Noel and Day’Ron Sharpe will look to get boards against Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez, and the rest of the Bucks.
With Holiday less than 100 percent, Jevon Carter will handle starting lineup responsibilities. Carter has exceeded all expectations since joining the team and has
A healthy Khris Middleton will determine a lot for the Bucks. He’s the second scorer and someone you can trust to get their own shot when the game is late and close. He’s been coming off the bench since returning from injury, and it’s been a struggle for him. His field goal and three point percentages are at career lows, but the job for the Bucks is to get him through the regular season and hope he’s got enough juice to last in the playoffs.
Player to watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Eastern Conference goes through the Greek Freak. Antetokounmpo has continued to be magnificent and is one of the favorites to take home the MVP award. The big fella is averaging around 31 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists a night on 54 percent shooting from the field. Antetokounmpo can get anywhere he wants to on the court and is a bulldozer in the paint. Over at Brew Hoop, Dru Smith wrote about a slight concern he has with Giannis, saying:
The only slight concerns here are two things: 1) His FT% is still too low, but to be honest with you… the fewer notes he gets about this, the better. He’s too in his head and just needs to quiet his mind at the line. Block the world out, my guy. And 2) Giannis was effectively out for 7 games this quarter due to minor injuries to his wrist, knee, and quad. The good news is that these injuries are showing all the signs of general wear and tear during a long season, and he seems to have avoided anything serious. Also, the Bucks showed that they were capable of winning even when their superstar sits. This is a deep team that can throw a lot of different lineups at opponents, so even if Giannis has to miss a few more games this season to be 100% by the time the playoffs roll around, they’ll be aight.
Health is the name of the game for Giannis, and if he rolls in to the postseason at 100 percent, good luck to the rest of y’all.
So the job for the Nets is to survive the minutes that Mikal Bridges sits. They were close for much of the game last time, but when Bridges sat, the Bucks turned up and pulled away from the Nets. He continued his wonderful play against the Rockets, and has been getting more opportunities to run the offense with the ball in his hands. It’s valuable experience for him and another dance against an elite defense will be a worthy challenge.
From the Vault
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More reading: Brew Hoop
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Milwaukee Bucks Game Notes - Milwaukee Bucks
- Surging once again, Bucks host Nets - STATS
- Brooklyn plays Milwaukee on 3-game win streak - AP
- Nets to face Bucks without Nic Claxton, Cam Johnson and Spencer Dinwiddie - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets set to have 3-game winning streak tested as team heads into Milwaukee - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets Injury Tracker: Nic Claxton, Cam Johnson ruled out for Thursday’s game vs. Bucks - Danny Abriano - SNY
- Middleton returns to the Bucks’ starting lineup - Jim Owczarski - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel