Time: 7:30 PM EST
Location: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports Go
Listen: WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM
The Nets are coming off of a strong performance against the crosstown rival New York Knicks with a 120-112 victory on Sunday night. The Nets were on fire from the three-point line banging in 19 shots from downtown and although giving up 112 points, even had some stretches of good defense too. Brook Lopez got the offense going with 5 threes in the first quarter alone and it set a tone for the rest of the team as the night went on. The Nets were up by 22 points at one point in the game but, the Nets never makes anything easy.
The Knicks crawled there way back into the game in the 4th quarter cutting the lead down to 5 points. It looked like the Nets were going to blow this game down the stretch but, Jeremy Lin put on his Joe Johnson pants and shut down any comeback hopes the Knicks had. He was composed late in the game and shut the door on his former team with 9 points in the last quarter of the game. It is becoming apparent that Lin’s late game management is huge for this team, it’s a shame he has been hurt because the Nets could have used a closer this season. Brook Lopez was the high man with 25 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also had a strong performance at the power forward spot tallying his 4th double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Brooklyn Nets are playing their best basketball of the season as of late. They’ve won 2 out of their last 4 and have made noticeable improvements on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The return of Jeremy Lin has had a lot to do with the teams recent success, the Nets were struggling late in games without a true playmaker on the floor. Although Spencer Dinwiddie has done a decent job limiting turnovers and getting his teammates involved, Lin adds the threat to take over a game which keeps defenders on their heels and frees opportunities for other players.
Sean Kilpatrick has benefited the most with the return of Jeremy Lin posting 17 points a game along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists and only 1 turnover during this stretch. Kilpatrick is at his best when he’s asked to do his damage off the ball. Kenny Atkinson was asking him to be the primary ball handler at times, which is something he isn’t particularly comfortable with. He constantly turned the ball over late in games and was not getting the open looks he got early on in the season. With the return of Jeremy Lin, he’s getting those looks and taking advantage of them. He’s scoring the ball more and limiting turnovers and is hopefully going to be a big component in the final 17 games of the season as the Nets look to improve their sales pitch to upcoming free agents.
The Thunder have been a different team since adding Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the squad at the trade deadline. They’re fresh off of some great games against the Spurs and Jazz and head into Brooklyn looking add to their winning streak and propel their way up the standings and nab a top 4 seed in the west. Russell Westbrook has been his same old bionic self with 2 straight triple doubles and he will most certainly be looking to make it 3 as he goes up against the worst defense in the league.
3 Things to Watch in Nets-Thunder:
1. Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo has been outstanding since his return from injury 3 games ago. He’s posting 19 points a game and shooting 54 percent from the field and an even more impressive 67 % from deep. Keep in mind that in those 3 games he’s faced 2 of the top 5 defenses in the league in the Jazz and Spurs. He’s always showed bits and pieces of his potential but he’s never quite been able to stay consistent. It’ll be interesting if he adds another big game to his tally or if he plays horrible and ruins the momentum he’s riding on which he is prone to doing
2. Jeremy Lin vs. Russell Westbrook
Jeremy Lins return to action has been mostly positive, but it has come with a big negative, he has been pretty bad on defense. He’s allowed three 30 point performances to opposing point guards in the last 7 games and it’s clear he’s still getting adjusted on the defensive end since the return of his hamstring injury. Tonight he tries his hand against Russell Westbrook, who has been torching every point guard throughout the season and looks to add to his triple-double total on the season. With all things considered, if Jeremy Lin holds Russ under 35 points it will be the best defensive performance in the history of basketball.
3. The Barclays Center Crowd
The Northeast has been hit hard with a snowstorm in March!. Climate change is real people and it might be affecting the Nets ticket sales for today. The stadium will probably look empty today, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Nets fans show up and cheer extra hard to make up for all of the empty seats in the arena.