Time: 9 p.m. EST
Location: Talking Stick Resort Arena
Watch: YES Network, FOX Sports GO
Listen: WFAN 101.9, 660 AM
The Brooklyn Nets (3-6) will continue their Western Conference road trip against the Phoenix Suns (4-5) on Nov. 6, looking to break a four-game losing streak. The team is surely looking to steal a game in what could be a challenging November for the team.
The Nets’ last game, a 124-112 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, had its ups and downs. The team trailed for most of the game but chipped into the Lakers’ lead throughout. However, the team’s offense and defense could not keep up with the Lakers’ attack. L.A. was led by familiar face Brook Lopez, who scored 34 points, and Kyle Kuzma, who scored 21. Brooklyn was led by 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 21 points from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. They played Friday’s game with a thin frontcourt, with Quincy Acy, Trevor Booker and Jarrett Allen all out due to various injuries.
At times, the Nets looked competent against the Lakers, with enough athleticism and hustle to keep up on both ends. But at other times, the entire team looked disjointed, allowing penetration on the defensive end too easily – opening the floor for Los Angeles’ shooters. On the offensive end, their own doing neutralized the Nets’ fourth-quarter attack – several contested three-point shots clanged off the rim. The team shot 38 three-pointers – but converted on just nine of them. It was an undisciplined way to what seemed like a winnable game.
Against the Suns, Brooklyn will try to avenge a Halloween loss and get back on track. Will the defense get its act together? Will the offense find coherence? It’s up in the air.
Three Things to Watch
1) Funkmeister Rondae
Hollis-Jefferson’s offensive game continues to be effective. Through nine games, RHJ has averaged 15.7 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting from the field. The forward’s funky game may not look traditionally effective, but it has been effective nonetheless. His offense has confused and maneuvered around bigs, wings and guards alike. Against the Lakers, RHJ had his second straight game with 21 points and was often the only Net able to generate offense towards the basket.
While RHJ’s offense is starting to gel, his defense has left much to be desired. With multiple Nets bigs out, RHJ slid into the center spot at stretches. Small ball is cool, but sometimes there can be some serious issues that arise. His matchup? Lopez, where RHJ often left him open on the perimeter, or not long enough to truly contest the Nets’ all-time leading scorer. While Hollis-Jefferson may be the Brooklyn Nets’ current power forward, he still needs a little bit of time to marinate to understand the nuances of being a big man on the defensive end.
2) T.J. Warren watch
In last Tuesday’s Nets-Suns matchup, T.J. Warren had himself a solid fourth quarter. Against smaller defenders like Crabbe, Warren came up huge. He scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. Warren finished the game with a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double, pulling down four offensive boards. The powerful fourth-year forward was a big reason for the Suns’ fourth-quarter comeback, providing energy and just a sheer mismatch for the (seemingly always) undersized Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets will need to contain Warren’s presence if they are looking to secure a win in Phoenix. Rather than playing an undersized guard on Warren, perhaps DeMarre Carroll can step in and play aggressively on the defensive end. As a team, Brooklyn should also try to contain Phoenix’s energy on the offensive glass. Even with a few bigs possibly out again, rebounding and defending the paint should be a team effort.
3) Devin or D’Angelo? (or Dinwiddie?)
Devin Booker and D’Angelo Russell are friends. (That’s what Instagram says.) During the teams’ last matchup, both Booker and Russell went off, with the two scoring 32 and 33 respectively. For the Brooklyn Nets, Russell was the only effective source of offense in the first half, with the rest of the team shooting less than 40 percent in the first half. On the other side, Booker got hot right as the Suns were starting to strike back. While the two did not really play much defense, they definitely provided a solid duel of two young playmakers.
However, the Nets’ team-ball came alive with Spencer Dinwiddie in the game. Dinwiddie orchestrated the Nets’ motion offense cleanly, scoring 15 points of his own, while also opening up the floor for the rest of his team. The Nets looked coherent with Dinwiddie on the floor. Of course, (Twitter) controversy arose with Dinwiddie swapped out for the (still hot) Russell midway through the fourth quarter. The Nets went on to lose their lead and the game, despite their best efforts.
Will we see another display of offensive fireworks from Russell and Booker in Phoenix? Probably. But for Dinwiddie, he is looking to bounce back from a frustrating game where he committed five fouls in less than 15 minutes. With Phoenix’s two-guard attack of Ersan Ilyasova, All-Star Mike James and Devin Booker, Kenny Atkinson may look to a combo of Dinwiddie and Russell to carry the Nets to victory.
Pre-game coverage on YES Network starts at 8:30 p.m. EST. Be sure to follow @TheBKGame on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest in Brooklyn Nets news!