Ugh, can we get just one game where D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie both play to their potentials together? I mean it’s ridiculous they both can’t just play well together at the same … I am absolutely kidding …
I have literally nothing to complain about after that overtime win against to the Rockets!! Like, this seriously might be as good as I, and probably many of us, have felt about the Nets in a long, long, long time. They went into Houston and played a fun, tight, exhilarating game while braving another insane James Harden performance and were able to come out of Texas with a win and a .500 record.
The Nets are taking a trip to Orlando for this next one to face off against the Magic whose playoff hopes are starting to dwindle a little bit after a recent 2-5 stretch and a general loss of their early season momentum. The Nets could be tired after that overtime performance, so it’ll be important to show up for this one. The Magic still have some weapons they can use. Let’s get into it.
Where To Follow The Game
YES and WFAN at 7 pm, ET.
Caris LeVert (foot) Allen Crabbe (knee) and Dzanan Musa (shoulder) are all still out but we saw the return of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in Houston so that’s nice. Caris LeVert (leg) was also seen shooting around with the team before the game, so that’s a good sign!
Mo Bamba will likely be available, but giving him minutes over Khem Birch may be a mistake as he makes the Magic 19 points worse per 100 possession this season.
By the way, I think Spencer Dinwiddie’s slump might be over. Not only did he put up a 33 and 10 line but he went Super Saiyan at the end of the fourth and the Nets couldn’t have won the game if he hadn’t. Him and Treveon Graham both needed to hit some shots and get into a groove pretty desperately, and they couldn’t have picked a better time to do it. Graham ended with 21 points in what was easily his best performance as a Net so far.
The Magic still don’t have what one might call a “starting point guard” and play a whole lot of DJ Augustin and Jerian Grant which is fine if you want to be the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference but not so great if you’re trying to make the playoffs, which is apparently the Magic’s goal for the season. Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell should be looking to build on their momentum and both have nice games against a team with a guard rotation that leaves a lot to be desired on both ends of the floor.
The Magic (19-25) will look to get back on track after falling 120-115 in overtime to the Pistons Wednesday night.
Orlando’s biggest strength is their starting frontcourt of Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, two very different and very interesting players. Vucevic is a big crafty center and is a bit of a throwback in a lot of ways except for the fact that he can shoot threes. He’s always reminded me of Brook Lopez, except Vooch grabs 11.9 boards per game. Aaron Gordon on the other hand is an athletic freak who can do a little bit of everything but not a ton of one particular thing. He’s scoring 15.6 points per game with 7.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He’s signed to a pretty team friendly deal that declines in salary each season, and if the Magic can’t figure out how to put together a playoff team soon, teams are going to be calling about him. He also looks just like Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and it is wild. They even have the same first name! Weird.
Jarrett Allen put up the gaudiest box score of his young career with a 20-point 24-rebound 3-block performance against a Clint Capela-less Rockets team. It isn’t often Jarrett gets to score 20 points, it’s just the third time he’s done it in his season and a half in the NBA, but that’s more a result of his role in the offense than having a limited scoring ability. The 24 rebounds were a career high. That’s 36 boards in the two games this week.
Orlando doesn’t score very much, just 103.6 points per game which ranks 27th in the league and they also have the 25th Net Rating at -3.9 which is not great. It’s not “Tanking Team” bad, the Hawks just one spot behind them at 26th have a Net Rating of -7.1, but Orlando certainly isn’t playing as well as they want to be or even were earlier in the season. Brooklyns Net Rating is -0.6 which is 19th in the league and after a wild up and down season so far that isn’t too bad a spot whatsoever.
Player To Watch
Evan Fournier is having a bit of a down year, scoring 14.9 points per game on 43% shooting from the floor and 33% from three. Those numbers are all below his production in recent years and as an offense-first wing he hasn’t been quite as effective in that role for Orlando in Steve Clifford’s offense this season. Still, he’s able to drop 20+ point on just about any night and is probably Orlando’s best wing player, sorry Terrence Ross. He could all of a sudden hit a couple three’s and give the Magic a lead out of nowhere.
From The Vault
I’ve always felt like Nets players have to be extra good just to get the video game ratings they deserve. Maybe I’m just a homer, who knows. Anyway, I hope everyone has a nice weekend.
For a different perspective, take a look at Orlando Pinstriped Post, our Magic sister site on SB Nation.