Opponent: Milwaukee Bucks
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center
Watch: YES Network
Listen: WCBS 880 AM
Following Thursday’s blowout loss at the Barclays Center, the Nets travel to Milwaukee to play the Bucks for the second match up of a home and home. Brooklyn has lost both games against the Bucks this season, albeit in dramatically different ways. Their first match up took place on the third game of the season in October when Brooklyn, led by a 26 point performance by Bojan Bogdanovic, had their hearts ripped out by a buzzer beating tip-in by John Henson. The Nets didn’t have Brook Lopez, who was sitting on the second night of a back-to-back but did have a healthy Jeremy Lin. Lin’s return is still in question as the team continues to struggle offensively, as they did Thursday in a 111-93 loss.
The team shot just 38 percent from the field while allowing Milwaukee to shoot 45 percent. Brooklyn’s highest scorer was Lopez with just 15 points and Sean Kilpatrick, who has been a revelation this season for the Nets, turned the ball over six times. Ultimately, the team was blown out in the third and fourth quarters and looked lost at stretches with their inability to string together any offensive rhythm. Sporting the 29th ranked defense in the league, the Nets do not stand a chance of winning any games if they cannot score the ball in bunches within Kenny Atkinson’s offense.
The Bucks are a team that is coming together on the defensive end. They currently have the 12th ranked defense and have the length and athleticism to disrupt the Nets’ looks on the perimeter. Matthew Dellavedova is a pest at the point guard spot and Giannis Antetokuonmpo can guard all five positions on the floor, allowing him to switch onto any Net while on defense. It will take plenty of things to go right for the Nets to avoid losing the season series to Milwaukee, but here are three things to watch for:
1. The youth movement
Sean Kilpatrick has had himself a week after the heroic performance he put on during the team’s upset of the Clippers on Tuesday. While he did turn the ball over six times on Thursday against the Bucks, he had an otherwise balanced stat line with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Isaiah Whitehead had the best +/- of any starter (minus-10 to give you an idea of how Thursday’s game went) and had the Nets’ best highlight after a beautiful spin move led to an easy lay-up in transition. These two were not supposed to have so much responsibilities but the Nets have no better options right now.
2. The curious case of Greg Monroe
Bucks coach and infamous Net coach/player Jason Kidd has not yet figured out what Greg Monroe’s role in the rotation is yet. After signing a max contract last summer, Monroe has been in and out of the starting line-up the past two years and has seen his minutes drastically fluctuate this year. He is averaging career lows in minutes (18.3 MPG), points (8.5 PPG) and rebounds (6.6 RPG), and has not started a single game this year. It will be interesting to see how he is used on Saturday.
3. Help is on the way?
The Nets could soon add a talented young stretch-four on a reasonable deal to bolster the line-up. On Friday, Sean Marks signed Rockets big man Donatas Motiejunias to a 4-year offer sheet with just two years guaranteed and just $37 million overall. Nets fans should temper their expectations after having Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe see their offer sheets matched by Miami and Portland respectively. Still, the promise of adding a talented big man whose 3-point abilities mesh with the Nets fast paced chuck-em-up offense should give Nets fans hope in what is increasingly becoming a lost season.