Man, Luka Doncic is really good. I can’t wait until Brooklyn can finally make some top picks again. The Nets lost to the Mavericks in Dallas on Thanksgiving Eve and split yet another back-to-back. It was their FIFTH back-to-back this season so far. FIVE. I don’t know too much about schedule construction, but five back-to-backs before December seems wholly irresponsible and also entirely unlucky for this Nets team while they’re trying to stay alive for that final playoff spot in the East.
The Timberwolves are coming to town this Friday and the Nets will look to bounce back against Karl-Anthony Towns and Crew. The Nets lost to Minnesota in their last meeting, but the Wolves have lost two straight following a four-game post-Butler win streak. That may have been more of a dead cat bounce than a real statement, and hopefully the Nets aren’t too full from Thanksgiving to run the Timberwolves off the court. Let’s get into it.
Where To Follow The Game
YES and WFAN have this one at noon. Noon! I don’t know why, but I find daytime basketball so amusing. Settle in with a nice Thanksgiving leftover sandwich and watch some lunchtime basketball. Love it.
Caris Levert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are still out. And Ed Davis (ankle) is questionable, proof he’s not a superhero although some fans might argue with you on that.
Both Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs are on assignment to Long Island.
Jerryd Bayless (knee) is out and has no real timetable for return.
The biggest takeaway from the most recent string of Nets games has been D’Angelo Russell’s newfound consistency. Putting up 20.8 points, 6.5 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals while shooting 44% from the field and 36% from three over his last four, he’s looking like the kind of point guard who can carry a team night in and night out which is exactly what the Nets had hoped for when they made the trade to acquire him.
He might never be the best player or first scoring option on a good team, but he certainly has the ability to be one of the most important players on the next good Nets team.
The last time we saw this Timberwolves team it was on the heels of the Jimmy Butler trade and it was also the night Caris Levert gave us all a heart attack. This one’s in Brooklyn, and the Nets have won their last two home games against Minnesota, but we’re going to get to see new Wolves Dario Saric and Robert Covington in this one, not Jimmy Butler. New team.
The two former Sixers are familiar Atlantic Division foes, and they’ve both been their normal, effective selves since moving cities. Robert Covington is shooting 50% from three since the trade but that’s not going to hold up.
The Nets defensive efforts this season have been impressive, and they currently rank first(!) in the league in opponent three point attempts and makes per game. If only they were so effective on pick-and-roll.
Kenny Atkinson loves the three on offense and hates it on defense. That’s just good math and good basketball. This team is made up of guys who may not be the best individual defenders, but are growing more and more comfortable with Kennys system in his third year as head coach. Familiarity is an asset, and these Nets are finally sticking around long enough to see some of that come to fruition.
Player To Watch
In high school my friend Bryce, who’s a Knicks fan (send your condolences) and I were sitting in our school cafeteria watching an MSG Varsity game on the TV and we noticed one player who was bigger and stronger and faster than everyone else. He was dominating. And he could shoot. It was, of course, Karl-Anthony Towns. I’ve been watching him since I was 16. I feel a weird sense of kinship with him as a Jersey kid; we were also born five days apart from each other (he’s very young). His career has been up and down so far, being both heralded as the next Tim Duncan and eviscerated for his laziness and passive attitude on the court when it matters. Both assessments have been valid at different times.
I can’t imagine the Jimmy Butler saga was good for him, and Thibedeau could end up running him into the ground (if he hasn’t already), but Towns has all the skill in the world to bounce back if he can engage himself a little bit more and rediscover what made him a transcendent talent to begin with. And if not, he’s still going to be super freaking rich. We’ll see which KAT shows up at the Barclays Center on friday.
From The Vault
This year I’m thankful for the people who upload old basketball videos to YouTube. Don’t know what we’d do without them. I searched “Nets Thanksgiving” and came up with this absolute gem from 2003, which was maybe the best Nets year of all time. Jason Kidd! Kenyon Martin! RJ! So much fun. Hope everyone had a great holiday.