The Nets were hotter than hot against the Nuggets on Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak and beating one of the best teams in the NBA pretty handily until the last few minutes. It fell apart just enough to let Denver back in for a (very anxious) minute.
Despite the mini-collapse, Brooklyn pulled out one of their more impressive wins this season. A gift from whoever puts together the leagues schedules, the game will pit the Nets against the Bulls in Brooklyn. In this next one, they’ll try to make it to the All-Star break in one piece. Three more games!!
The Bulls are in full tank mode, and recently made an interesting trade we’ll talk about in a minute. They’re 12-42, have gone 2-15 in their last 17 games, and show no signs of slowing down the losing. They want Zion! The Nets should look for another win here in order to gain some momentum going into the break. Let’s get into it.
Where To Follow The Game
YES and WFAN at 7:30 pm, ET. Head over to the WFAN crew’s new Twitter feed, @BKNetsRadio, for the latest radio updates.
CARIS LEVERT IS BACK.
Like, actually back as in he is going to play basketball in the Barclays Center while wearing a Nets jersey during an official NBA basketball game. Wow. It still feels like a miracle. Amazing.
Also, Sean Marks swung himself a little trade deadline deal, acquiring Greg Monroe and a 2021 second round pick from the Raptors in exchange for everyone’s favorite player, Cash Considerations … $110,000 to be precise. The last time the Nets had one of the Raptors second rounders, Marks turned it into Rodions Kurucs. Good deal. Hope Cash Considerations likes it up in Toronto.
At the deadline, Chicago made a trade to acquire a Sean Marks Offer Sheet Alumni, Otto Porter. Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker were sent to Washington, and Porter is now presumably a cornerstone of the Bulls rebuild.
It will be interesting to see how he plays in this environment. Porter is talented, and he can get buckets and hit shots and play switchy, versatile defense, but he isn’t an on-ball or shot creator type really. Or at least, he hasn’t been yet. For his entire career he’s been on a team with John Wall and Bradley Beal, two guards with the ability to collapse a defense and a penchant for hitting their open teammates when they do so. Kris Dunn and and Zach LaVine might prove to be good counterparts for Porter, but we’ll see if he tries to develop a little more of an on-ball game or playmaking role on his new team.
(Side note: Tyler Johnson, another Offer Sheet Alumnus, was traded from Miami to Phoenix this week. Sean Marks has made a lot of men very rich, hopefully he gets some Agent and Manager appreciation from that.)
Back to actual basketball, the performance against the Nuggets was the pinnacle of what this team wants to look like when everything is going right. Even the slow start to the game, where the Nets fell behind early, was an indicator of this squads resilience and perseverance. Plus they just kept hitting shots. They couldn’t stop. D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll, Treveon Graham, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris all had double digit points. It probably won’t take that much of an effort to beat Chicago, but let’s hope the hot hands stay hot.
Allen Crabbe made his triumphant return to the Nets rotation, hitting a three and dishing out three assists in 13 minutes of action. It’ll be a little while before we see him playing any sort of significant time, but the rotation felt a little less thin with him out there. Caris is next up on the list of returning players, and if Allen Crabbe playing 13 minutes felt great just imagine how much fun it’s going to be having an actual legitimate starting caliber —maybe even a star— player back in the rotation, even if he won’t be at full strength for a while.
It’s going to be so much fun seeing Caris back out there. The boost in energy and momentum alone might be enough of a positive impact to aide the Nets down the stretch, but man has he been sorely missed. Especially since Dinwiddie went down, the Nets have really lacked a solid second scoring option and LeVert can create shots for both himself and his teammates maybe better than anyone else on the roster. It’s close between him and Russell. Glad to have him back.
The Nets are 3-0 against the Bulls this year so far, and this will be the last time we see them this season. A four-game sweep would be a fitting way to wrap up the season series although I will kind of miss them. They’re a young, bad, kind of fun team with players that are likeable and a coach that seems to have no idea what he’s doing which is at the very least entertaining to fans of other teams. I wish them the best of luck going forward, especially in the lottery. Someone’s gotta get Zion, and it would be great if the team that did was uhhh, not the Knicks. We’ll miss you Chicago!
Player To Watch
Lost among the tanking and the trades and the injuries has been the fact that Lauri Markkanen is having a great sophomore season. The big man is scoring 17.5 points per game, grabbing 8 rebounds, and shooting 43/38/86 while still just 21 years old. He’s a dream stretch 4 and at 7 feet, 240 pounds he could probably play a decent center as well.
It can be tough for young guys on tanking teams to get the development they need and start to establish good, winning habits. But the flipside of that is that it’s clear that Lauri Markkanen is the best player on a team without a lot of good options, so he does get to play 31.6 minutes per game and put up 14.6 shots and 6.5 threes. As long as too many bad habits don’t form, which it doesn’t feel like they are, Markkanen is a prime candidate to pop and become one of the better big men in the league in a couple of years.
From The Vault
Hope everyone had a fun Trade Deadline day of refreshing Twitter over and over again!
Here’s a little palette cleanser for your Transaction Fatigue.
For a different perspective, head on over to Blog-a-Bull, our sister site on SB Nation.