Time: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Watch: YES Network, FOX Sports GO
Listen: WFAN 101.9, 660 AM
After defeating the Washington Wizards in dominating fashion on Friday night, the Nets have a quick turnaround to play the Indiana Pacers for the third time this season on Saturday. Indiana has the advantage in the season series, as the Pacers have won both games and started to stand their ground in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Victor Oladipo has been the biggest thorn in the Brooklyn Nets’ side. He put up 22 points in his Pacers debut (which seems to be the norm nowadays) in a 141-130 win. He followed that performance with an equally impressive 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
Oladipo is starting to realize his No. 2 overall draft pick potential. The Pacers are not close to the same team without him, and it looks like Indiana took nearly no time at all to find their new franchise player.
The Nets will need to be at their best defensively against Indiana’s high-powered offense, as the Pacers rank seventh in points and third in field goals made in the league. Brooklyn’s defense started the month with the highest defensive rating in the league through 11 days. Yes, the team played two games at the high altitude of Mexico in that span, but it still looked competent on that side of the ball.
In reality, that’s what Brooklyn needs: competence. If the team keeps up its efficient scoring from the night before (50 percent) and continues to apply the defensive pressure, the Nets could be looking at back-to-back wins.
Three things to watch for
Points, points, points!
The first two matchups between the Nets and Pacers saw both teams struggle defensively. The first game ended with a combined 271 points, which, you know, is a lot. One could have blamed it on both teams trying to knock off the rust from the offseason, but the second matchup ended with a combined 226 points.
If you’re not a fan of defense and like watching the ball go through the hoop, tonight’s game might be the one for you.
Caris LeVert breaking ankles
Caris LeVert recently dropped Kelly Oubre Jr. against the Washington Wizards Friday night. That’s the second straight game LeVert has collected a pair of ankles, so let’s see if this trend continues.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) December 23, 2017
LeVert has looked more confident and defenders are having a tough time against him. It is not easy to defend a guy who has a long wingspan and lightning quick first step. When one adds a filthy step-back to it, players can’t be blamed for getting shifted.
Can the Nets build on an impressive showing against Washington?
The Nets put up their first, and best, wire-to-wire victory against the Wizards Friday night, showing that they are capable of defending an energetic offense. Those wins are what can turn a season around for a struggling team, at least the Nets hope so.
To recap, the Nets had both their worst and best performances of the season in the same week. Will the Nets continue to be streaky or put up back-to-back wins?
If the energy is there, the competitiveness will be. All the Nets need is their drive (and some fresh legs).