Nets look to avoid freefalling against Crabbe, Plumlee, and the Trail Blazers
Opponent: Portland Trail Blazers
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network
The Brooklyn Nets finally return home after a five-game road trip where they only won one against the Phoenix Suns. Awaiting them at home will be the Portland Trail Blazers, who have gotten off to a sluggish start themselves with a 7-7 record. The Blazers are on a three-game losing streak with their last loss coming at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans, 113-101, and they currently rank just 8th in the tough Western Conference.
Of course, the Nets will be without Jeremy Lin for another game and, yet again, face another All-Star point guard in Damian Lillard. Lillard, who was the no. six overall pick in the 2012 draft thanks to the Nets’ Gerald Wallace trade, is averaging a career-high in points this season with 28.7 per game.
Randy Foye got the start at point guard in Friday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder as the Nets continue to search for a band aid at the position. Between the veteran, Isaiah Whitehead, Yogi Ferrell, and Sean Kilpatrick, the Nets have stayed afloat, but couldn’t stop Russell Westbrook from getting another triple-double, his league-leading fourth of that kind. Foye only played 16 minutes, scoring just two points and turning the ball over four times.
The Nets will face a familiar face in Mason Plumlee, who they traded away on draft night for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in 2015. Plumlee is averaging 9.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.6 five assists per game and Hollis-Jefferson is the Nets’ defensive stalwart — making it the rare trade to work out on both ends.
Finally, Nets fans will get their first look at Allen Crabbe, who signed a four-year, $75 million offer sheet with Brooklyn over the summer only to be matched by Portland. Thus far, Crabbe is averaging just 9.2 points per game off the bench behind Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
3 Things to Watch for in Nets-Blazers:
1. Can Brooklyn protect its home court?
Three of the four wins this season have come at home, so today’s opportunity is a big one against a foe that ranks dead-last in defensive efficiency this season. Between Lillard, McCollum, Crabbe, and Evan Turner, there’s no shortage of offense for Portland, but if the Nets build through the favorable Lopez-Plumlee matchup, they’ll like their chances.
2. Can Sean Kilpatrick get back on track?
Understandably, it’s important for Kilpatrick to play well if the Nets want a win. Kilpatrick struggled while running the offense on the road trip, particularly so in the Nets’ last three losses. At this point, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation for the sharpshooter — in wins, Kilpatrick has tallied 18, 24, 14, and 19-point efforts, good for a 18.8 average; in losses, he grabs just 12 a game.
At home, Kilpatrick is averaging 17.6 points, so you get the idea here, his impact is important this afternoon.
3. Who will contain Damian Lillard?
The Nets point guard situation isn’t the prettiest at the moment and while that can be a problem offensively, it’s definitely a problem on the defensive side of the court. We saw Hollis-Jefferson try to cover Westbrook on Friday, to mixed results — will he give a shot against Lillard? Expect to see Whitehead, Kilpatrick, and Ferrell all have an opportunity against the All-Star as well, but is it all futile?