While the rest of the world was watch LSU vs. Iowa in the Women’s NCAA National Championship, the Brooklyn Nets almost made a mess of things. They were up by as much as 23 points, but started to trick it off. The Utah Jazz almost pulled off the comeback, but the Nets did just enough to avoid disaster. Lucky them.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are hoping to climb out of the play in standings. In order for them to get there, they have to stack up wins and beat the teams they’re supposed to. On Sunday afternoon, they had the opportunity to do both against a Portland Trailblazers team that is without most of their best players. They did neither as they suffered a catastrophic defeat in front of the hometown faithful. Can’t afford for that to happen.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET.
No Ben Simmons. David Duke Jr. and Dru Smith are back in Brooklyn with the Long Island Nets season over.
No Naz Reid. Jaylen Nowell is questionable with left knee tendinopathy. Karl Anthony Towns is questionable with a right calf strain. Austin Rivers is questionable with an illness.
Brooklyn won the first game in March. This is the last meeting between the two teams this season.
It’s a homecoming tonight! Our guy, Michael Grady, is the lead announcer for the Wolves and it’ll be great to see him back in Brooklyn. Shouts to him.
So, getting sick sucks. A stomach virus has been going around the team in recent days, and it’s made a hectic end of the season even tougher.
The Ant Man is here! Anthony Edwards has been dealing with an ankle injury for a while and he’s trying to power through it. Edwards has seen his scoring numbers increase again while also seeing his shooting percentages climb up. Edwards is exactly what you want in a franchise player and at just 21 years old, he has the potential to get even better from here. For the Nets, their focus will be to keep him from getting to the basket. Ant Man is an explosive finisher at the basket and if he’s got a full head of steam, somebody’s gonna get put on a poster.
When your shot isn’t there, get to the free throw line. It keeps the defense off balance and helps keep the team afloat. Mikal Bridges struggled from the field on Sunday, but he still scored 30 points thanks to going 11-13 from the free throw line. He’s attempted at least eight free throws in five out of the last six games. Jaden McDaniels has been one of Minnesota’s best defenders and look for him to get plenty of chances to check Bridges.
The Wolves have been one of the best three point shooting teams since the All Star break as their 38.4 percent from deep is eighth best in the league. The Nets have figured things out from deep and they’ll look to keep firing from downtown. Cam Johnson in particular has been terrific and he’s been driving to the basket a fair amount as well.
And with a little luck, the Nets could clinch the six seed by the end of the night. A Nets win in Brooklyn and a Heat loss in Detroit would seal it.
Player to watch: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl Anthony Towns is back, and having an All Star big is something that’s a blessing. Since his return, KAT has averaged 18.4 points a night on .431/.467/.842 shooting splits. KAT was pretty terrible on Sunday, tonight is an opportunity for him to get back on the good foot. There’s still discussion as to how he fits next to Rudy Gobert, and our friends at Canis Hoopus (with an assist from Rasheed Wallace!) wrote about that:
While attacking the glass will largely be done by Gobert in the paint, this point depends on KAT. As Sheed explains it, attacking a four-out defense, a common look the Wolves face, now comes down to KAT’s ability to pass and shoot and, crucially, his ability to find balance. Towns should be launching threes all game with how this team plays, but his post game has yet to make a huge appearance since returning from injury.
Considering the clogged lanes of the early 2000s, this may be a look that could struggle today, but keeping Gobert in the dunker’s spot while KAT attacks his forward matchup would be a way to diversify the offensive approach. I, personally, am not fully on board with this approach, as KAT faces doubles enough as it is, but if Karl continues to improve as a passer, or even returns to his early season showings, this could certainly provide a matchup nightmare.
True indeed. Towns skipped on media availability after Sunday’s loss, so he’s probably got a lot on his mind as he looks to right the ship. As one of the team leaders, everyone will be looking for him to set the example and make winning plays.
Nic Claxton will have his hands full tonight. Clax will be battling with Towns and Rudy Gobert on the inside as he tries to help the Nets win the rebounding battle. You would think a team with Gobert would be better on the glass, but the Wolves are just as terrible on the boards as the Nets are. For the Nets, they’ll need Claxton to lock down the paint so they put a shorthanded Wolves team to work on the other side.
Then there’s this: a win tonight would be the Nets 44th of the season, matching last year’s total.
From the Vault
In the Men’s NCAA Final Four, the UConn Huskies beat San Diego State to claim their fifth national championship. With that in mind, let’s take it all the way back to the beginning and their first title.
More reading: Canis Hoopus
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Minnesota Timberwolves Game Notes - Minnesota Timberwolves
- Wolves looking to snap Nets’ 3-game win streak - STATS
- Brooklyn faces Minnesota, seeks 4th straight home win - AP
- Nets on verge of clinching No. 6 playoff spot after turning things around - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- What Knicks must do to avoid complicated playoff tiebreaker with Nets - Jared Schwartz - New York Post
- Nets revive winning ways by shutting down opponents’ stars - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Timberwolves face Brooklyn as both teams chase playoff spots - Kent Youngblood - Minneapolis Star-Tribune