Opponent: Washington Wizards
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO
Listen: WCBS 880 AM
Whew. For the first time this season, the Nets won consecutive games. They beat the Phoenix Suns handily last night, 126-98. On Friday night, Brooklyn will try to make it three in a row. Yes. Three wins. In. A. Row. Let’s get hype, Nets fans. The Nets are 5-5 in their last ten games.
Against Detroit, they hung on and won on a clutch buzzer-beater by Brook Lopez. Against Phoenix last night, the Nets dominated the second half. It was a team victory, with eight Nets scoring in double digits in their rout against a depleted Suns team. Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lin, Quincy Acy, Isaiah Whitehead, K.J. McDaniels, Justin Hamilton, and Archie Goodwin all scored over 10 points — but none scored over 20.
The Nets will look to make it three wins in a row against the Washington Wizards in the Nation’s Capital on Friday night.
The Washington Wizards are primed for a playoff run. They currently hold the third seed in the eastern conference and have bolstered their bench for the stretch run. They currently hold a 43-28 record and have played well after an initial rocky start. John Wall and Bradley Beal, one of the deadliest backcourts in the NBA, lead the Wizards. They combined for 50 points in their most recent win against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
The Wizards have dominated the Nets’ season series thus far, winning all three of their matchups. Their last matchup saw Brooklyn lose in overtime to the Wizards. It was another heartbreaker amidst the Nets’ 16-game losing streak. Brooklyn will try to chip in with one win against Washington. For the Nets, it’s the second game of a back-to-back. For the Wizards, they will play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
3 Things to Watch for in Nets-Wizards:
1. Bojan keeps you runnin’
Bojan Bogdanovic will face his former team for the very first time on Friday. Bojan made a splash in his initial games with the Wizards, showing his trademark microwave scoring – but this time off of the bench. Since joining the Wizards, Bojan has improved his efficiency – shooting 47% from the field and 42% from three while scoring 14.6 points per game. The Bogdanovic trade was a move for the future for the Nets – acquiring a first round pick for the soon-to-be restricted free agent. The Nets know Bogdanovic’s game. They’ll just have to stop him from going off from the perimeter.
The Nets’ other piece traded to Washington, Chris McCullough, is currently on D-League Assignment to the Northern Arizona Suns. The roster spot opened by dealing McCullough allowed for the acquisition of K.J. McDaniels. McDaniels played well against Phoenix last night, scoring 16 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. He may be tasked with guarding Bogdanovic in the Nets’ second unit.
2. Minute by minute
The Nets won by 28 points against the Suns, one of their biggest wins of the season. No Nets starter played over 24 minutes. So on the second half of a back-to-back, head coach Kenny Atkinson may be comfortable with playing his best players extended minutes. With a stacked Washington team, the Nets will have to give their best effort for all 48 minutes.
One interesting storyline to watch is the Caris LeVert-Otto Porter Jr. matchup. LeVert has impressed throughout his rookie season, with flashes of brilliance seemingly every game. Otto Porter Jr. has transformed into an elite non-star option for the Wizards. There have been rumors abounding on his restricted free agency. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the Nets’ most recent rumors, the Nets may want to take a look at Porter as well. Hey, you never know.
3. Takin’ it to the draft
It’s March Madness. The Final Four will be played next week. The talk of the NBA Draft may be at its pre-June peak. While the Nets may not have their own first round pick, they own two — the Celtics pick, and the Wizards’ selection acquired in the Bogdanovic trade. With a win tonight, the Nets could take improve their own draft position. Should we call this anti-tanking?
As of Friday morning, the Nets hold the 24 and 26 picks in the first round of this June’s draft. While Washington has played well, a few teams are breathing down their necks in the win-loss column. It may not be inherently important for playoff seeding, but a Raptors or Clippers win could benefit the Nets. So would a Washington loss. Toronto and Los Angeles are within one game (or less) of the Wizards. So by beating the Wizards, the Nets could move their hypothetical draft standing to 22 by season’s end. Get your mock drafts ready! For more information on the Nets’ draft standing, check out my Marks Madness piece! That pun took me a while.
And as always, root for a Nets victory. Who knew that a 15-win team could be so fun?
Pregame coverage on the YES Network will start at 6:30 p.m. EST. Be sure to follow @TheBKGame on Twitter for live game coverage. See you at the game!