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Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz preview: Nets look for another win

The Nets hope to start a new winning streak after breaking their losing streak on Saturday night.

Utah Jazz v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Hey, as long as they got the job done. The Brooklyn Nets built a 28 point lead, but it gradually started to melt as the Houston Rockets chipped away. Fortunately for Brooklyn, they did just enough to hang on and get a much needed victory on Saturday night. It all counts the same in the record books.

The opponent tonight has started to pick things up. After a dreadful start to the season, the Jazz are above .500 and have a damn good chance of making the postseason. They helped their cause after beating the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

No Day’Ron Sharpe. Dariq Whitehead will miss the remainder of the season as he will be undergoing leg surgery. Dorian Finney Smith left Saturday’s game due to an ankle sprain. He’s out. Cam Johnson missed the game due to personal reasons. He’ll be back tonight. It appears Ben Simmons will be making his return to the hardwood tonight.

All clear for Utah.

The game

Utah won the first meeting.

Defending Lauri Markkanen will be a tall, tall task for the Nets. Everyone in the NBA hopes that the Jazz makes him available for a trade, but barring something incredibly unforeseen, that ain’t happening. With plays like this, you see why:

The big guy is good for about 24 points and nine rebounds a night on 50/40/87 splits. He does just about everything well and should make the All Star Game in Indianapolis when the reserves are announced.

Nic Claxton will be patrolling the court for the Nets. Clax had another solid day at the office with 10/13/4/1/1 in 37 minutes. His versatility has helped the Nets defense stabilize in January (sixth best defensive rating in the NBA this month). Claxton will face off with John Collins.

It appears Ben Simmons will be back, but can the Nets rely on him? Among other things, that’s something the franchise has to figure out in a hurry. Simmons gives them another ball handler, someone who can (in theory) get downhill, and gives them more size on the boards to work with. With this being his first game in over two and a half months, he probably won’t have a heavy workload. Whatever he can give the Nets is found money at this point.

Mikal Bridges will look to keep the heat on from three point range. In January, he’s averaged a bit over eight three point attempts per game. He’s at 36.4%, which is above league average, but the Nets need him to be excellent at all aspects of the game if they want to stay in the play-in race.

Player to watch: Collin Sexton

Great things happen when you put your young guard in the starting lineup and turn him loose. Since his insertion into the starting five on December 13, Sexton has averaged 22 points and five assists on 51/.42/88 shooting splits. Sexton is a locomotive going downhill and someone that can heat up at a moment’s notice. He only went 6-of-17 from the field the first time he saw Brooklyn, but got to the free throw line a season-high 13 times.

We’ll see if Cam Thomas gets to start again. As a starter, CT is averaging 22.7 points per game on 45/37/87 shooting splits. All of his numbers are vastly better as a starter than when he comes off the bench, so you start to wonder if the team has enough evidence to realize that he should get be in the starting five. Brooklyn has had the fourth worst offense in the NBA in January, and they need as much help as possible to get some juice flowing.

From the Vault

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More reading: SLC Dunk, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Deseret News, The J Notes