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Brooklyn Nets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder preview: Nets try to stop the losing streak

The Nets are finally back home, and awaiting them is one of the league’s best teams.

New York Knicks v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images

Far from home, and even further from victory. The Brooklyn Nets wrapped up their four-game road trip on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets. And just like the other games, the Nets couldn’t get it going and suffered another tough loss. The losing streak is now at five games.

The opponent tonight is one of the league’s best teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been on a roll and figure to make noise the deeper we get into the season. They almost pulled off an improbable rally against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, but fell three points short.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET.


Dennis Smith Jr was a late scratch on Wednesday due to a back injury. He’s listed as probable. Same for Lonnie Walker IV who’s missed 17 games. Ben Simmons is out.

Everyone’s good to go for the Thunder. Youth is a wonderful elixir.

The game

OKC won the first meeting.

This is the third game in four nights for both teams, and both squads flew in to New York from road games on Wednesday. Fortunately for the Thunder, they have a weekend off before returning to action on Monday night in DC against the Nets. The Nets have one day off before a Sunday afternoon game against the Portland Trailblazers. After that, they fly to Paris for the NBA Global Games!

This is the Nets first home game since that punt game against the Milwaukee Bucks, and the consequences of that game continue to linger. On Thursday afternoon, the NBA announced that they fined the organization $100,000 for that. I would assume this deadens the issue, but I imagine we’ll hear more about it as time goes on.

Today, votes for the NBA All Star Game are tripled. I might have to throw a vote in for Big Chet! Chet Holmgren has been magnificent in his NBA debut and has a damn good chance to win Rookie of the Year. Holmgren was named Rookie of the Month for the second time and has been shining at the center position

Hell yeah. Nic Claxton will do battle with the future All-Star tonight. Clax was a man possessed in the first half of Wednesday’s game as he grabbed ten of his game high 13 rebounds. The 24-year-old has now grabbed double digit rebounds in four of his last five games and five of his last seven. The Nets need something approximating that every night out if they want

We discussed Josh Giddey on Sunday, and it still applies here.

Slumps are inevitable. No one's perfect and we all have stretches where things don’t go well. You can’t explain why you’re in a funk, you just hope you can get out of it as soon as possible. That’s where Cam Thomas finds himself currently. The young guard last made a field goal on Sunday night vs. OKC and has missed his last 20 field goal attempts. After Wednesday’s game, he was asked about his slump and said:

“People forget I’m human.”

True indeed. All it takes is one bucket and if Thomas can get comfortable early, it might get him back to his regular standard. That starts with him attacking the basket. The Nets desperately need to get easy buckets, and Thomas can solve that problem when he’s going well.

Young teams tend to be loose with the basketball. The Thunder are an exception in that regard as they have the second lowest turnover rate in the NBA this season. The Nets finally started to force more turnovers on Wednesday, and if they do get the Thunder to make mistakes, they’ll have to capitalize every time. The margin of error for this team is so small, and any advantage they create, they’ll have to make the most of.

Player to watch: Shai Gilgeous Alexander

Jrue Holiday has earned the reputation as being one of the NBA's best, toughest defenders. He's made the All Defensive team five times and has finished in the top five of the Defensive Player of the Year award four times. So it stands out when a player like him has trouble defending an opponent like Shai Gilgeous Alexander

And we can see why!

It’s been a banner year for SGA and he has a great chance of being named a starter in the upcoming All Star Game. Gilgeous-Alexander is third in the NBA in scoring at 31.4 points a night on .546/.339/.904 shooting splits. Not to be outdone, he chips in around six assists, six rebounds, and two steals a night. Everything you can think of, he can do. SGA is currently third in the fan vote for All-Star guard in the West, and that should increase exponentially as we draw closer to the big game. And if he keeps it up, he’ll have a chance to be the third MVP in Thunder history, joining Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. That’s some special company.

Mikal Bridges needs a big game in the worst way. The Nets star had another rough outing and the team desperately needs a jolt of energy on the offensive end. ND’s Collin Helwig has an idea of what might help get Bridges back on track:

I’d still like to see Bridges play a bit more off-ball. He’s going through the worst stretch of his career right now, so bringing him back to the basics and then building on that feels like the wisest plan of action. Get him some looks out on the wing, if that goes well, see how his jumper looks navigating the pick and roll especially if Brooklyn’s playing an opponent in the drop.

All it takes is one game to snap out of a funk. For the Nets and Bridges, having the home crowd behind them might be the extra push they need to get back on track in 2024.

From the Vault

The new year is usually about squashing any old beefs you have and moving forward with positive energy. Here’s hoping Hall and Oates squash their beef

More reading: Thunderous Intentions, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, The Oklahoman