Got the rhythm. With the postseason drawing closer, the Brooklyn Nets have to stack up some wins to ensure they stay in the top six of the Eastern Conference. They were able to do that and then some as they steamrolled the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at Barclays Center. Five games to go.
The opponent tonight has been one of the most surprising teams in the NBA this year. The Utah Jazz were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league, but they’ve managed to exceed expectations and are still within striking distance of the postseason. That took a major hit after they lost to the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Where to follow the game
MY9 on TV. WFAN on radio. Day party so we getting it going after 3:30 PM.
No Ben Simmons. The two two-ways, David Duke Jr. and Dru Smith, are playing at Nassau Coliseum tonight in the G League Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Delaware Blue Coats. Game starts at 8:00 p.m. ET. ESPNU has the coverage.
Jordan Clarkson is out with a left finger sprain. Rudy Gay is out with lower back soreness. Collin Sexton is out with a left hamstring strain. Lauri Markkanen is questionable with a left hand contusion.
Brooklyn won the first game back in January. This is the last meeting between the two teams this season.
It’s always special to watch a player take the next step. You watch a young player grow over time, get more comfortable in their role, and gradually add to their tool belt over time. Phoenix Suns fans got to see it first, but now Nets fans get to enjoy Mikal Bridges’ star turn. Bridges crossed the 40 point plateau for the third time as a Net as his 42 points on .667/.625/1.000 shooting splits had the Hawks starstruck. It feels like every time Bridges has the ball, something good is bound to happen.
Talen Horton-Tucker has been a revelation for Utah. Over his last three games, THT has averaged a touch over 28 points per game on .484/.381/.750 shooting splits. He likely won’t keep the 28 per game pace, but if he’s able to take on an expanded role while playing at a high level, it’ll give Utah management something to think about as they enter into a fun offseason.
Deep shooting will be the key to this one. Since the All Star break, the Jazz are 28th in 3-point percentage at 33.3%. The team has been swamped with injuries and have missed their All-NBA forward, but if he’s back today, it’ll give them some scoring punch. Utah plays at one of the fastest paces in the league, and if the Nets can get hot from three, they can take full advantage.
Even with their three point woes, the Jazz are still beasts on the boards and are fourth in the NBA in rebounding post All Star break. We’ve documented Brooklyn’s troubles closing out possessions and if they let Utah get second and third chance opportunities, it’ll keep Utah in it.
Player to watch: Walker Kessler
The adjustment for a rookie big into the NBA is always a difficult one. Having to adjust to new coverages, learn new lingo, and be the anchor of a defense in a fast paced NBA is incredibly difficult and takes years to master. However, Kessler has been a star in the making and is someone Jazz fans are incredibly excited about. He’s fourth in the NBA in blocks per game and someone who's helped turn the Jazz into a play-in contender. Since the break, the Jazz have allowed the third lowest field goal percentage allowed inside the restricted area, and Kessler is a large part of that.
Nic Claxton will be battling with Kessler on the inside for position. Clax had his customary great day at the office with 14/12/5/1/2 in 27 minutes. Claxton’s rapid ascension has everyone excited about his future here in Brooklyn. He’s added more and more skills to his repertoire and now that he has more opportunity to showcase his talents, it’s allowed for more flexibility in the Brooklyn attack.
From the Vault
Tonight is night two of Wrestlemania, and all eyes will be on the main event as Cody Rhodes tries to dethrone the Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns. ACKNOWLEDGE HIM!
More reading: SLC Dunk
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Utah Jazz Game Notes - Utah Jazz
- Nets, Jazz both getting big numbers from unlikely sources - STATS
- Utah visits Brooklyn after Bridges’ 42-point outing - AP
- Dorian Finney-Smith back in groove after slow Nets start - Jared Schwartz - New York Post
- Joe Harris finds ‘luxury’ in new backseat Nets role - Jared Schwartz - New York Post
- What can the Nets expect from Ben Simmons next season? - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Ex-Jazz coach Quin Snyder praises Royce O’Neale’s versatility for Nets - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Analyzing Nets’ potential 2023 NBA Playoff matchups - David Vertsberger - SNY
- Nets going through pains of building chemistry while battling for playoff positioning - Christian Arnold - amNY
- Would the Utah Jazz be in the postseason if the NBA playoffs started today? - Joe Coles - Deseret News