Nets Gameday: Brooklyn faces NBA-best Phoenix Suns as slump continues

Brooklyn Nets
James Johnson blocks a shot by Phoenix Suns center JaVale McGee during the third quarter at Barclays Center.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The shorthanded Nets are in the Desert on Tuesday to face the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns for the second game of their five-game road trip. Brooklyn has dropped their last four games and has continued to deal with injury issues.

The Nets will be without center LaMarcus Aldridge, but the good news is that James Harden practiced with the team in Tempe and could be ready to go for Tuesday’s game. His status was upgraded from questionable to Probable on Tuesday afternoon.

Brooklyn has dropped 11 of its last 17 games.

Harden had been out the two previous games with two separate injuries, one being hamstring tightness and the other being a hand strain.  The loss of Aldridge, however, is another blow to a Nets squad that has dealt with injury after injury the last few weeks.

Aldrige has been used by Brooklyn to generate offense while they’ve been without some of their stars including Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Irving is only eligible to play on the road because of his unvaccinated status.

“(Aldridge’s) spirits are high. Of course, we don’t know what the scans will be, so we’ve just got to pray for him,” Nic Claxton told the New York Post. “It sucks going through these injuries. If anybody knows, I know. But he’s got to stay as positive as he can be, and hopefully, we get him back as soon as possible.”

The Nets are 2-2 this season when Harden and Irving are in the lineup and 18-5 all-time.

Irving has also been a driving force for the offense, and he will be in the lineup again on Tuesday. He had a season-high 32 points for the Nets on Saturday in their loss to the Golden State Warriors and has averaged 24.5 points in eight games this season.

The Nets will need that against a Suns team that is off to the best start through 50 games in franchise history and are on a 10-game winning streak. They defeated the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday 115-110, when Devon Booker put up 28 points and Chris Paul had 20 of his own.

The win also guaranteed that the Suns would have the best record in the west by Feb. 6, meaning head coach Monty Williams would coach Team LeBron at the NBA All-Star Game later this month.

Nets Notables

The Nets are 37-23 (.617) on the road since the start of last season. Only Phoenix (43-16, .729) has been better in that time. … Kyrie Irving has registered 30-plus points, five or more boards and five or more assists in each of his last two games played, marking the third time in his career that he’s posted 30/5/5 in consecutive games played. He has never recorded that stat line three straight games during his career. … Patty Mills leads the team in offensive rating (114.4), net rating (5.9), 3-pointers made (158) and plus/minus (+210).

Nets Injury Report

  • James Harden (right hand strain) — Questionable
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (left ankle sprain) — Out
  • David Duke Jr. (G League Two way) — Out
  •  Kevin Durant (left knee MCL sprain) — Out
  • Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) — Out
  • Paul Millsap (personal reasons)- Out

Suns Injury Report

  • DeAndre Ayton (right ankle sprain) — Out
  • Jae Crowder (left wrist contusion) — Out
  • Frank Kaminsky (right knee stress reaction) — Out
  • Abdel Nadar (right knee injury management) — Out
  • Cameron Payne (right wrist sprain) — Out
  • Dario Saric (right ACL tear) — Out

How To Watch

YES Network and TNT will carry Tuesday’s game in Phoenix. Ryan Ruocco, Sarah Kustok and Michael Grady will be on the call for YES, while Ian Eagle, Jim Jackson and Chris Haynes will be on the TNT broadcast.

Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw will be the voices heard on the radio broadcast on WFAN 101.9 FM / 660 AM.