Halloween matchup has Nets looking to grab a win over the Suns before west coast trip

Photo courtesy YES Network

Time: 7:30 p.m. EST

Location: Barclays Center

Watch: YES Network, FOX Sports GO

Listen: WFAN 101.9,x 660 AM

Photo courtesy YES Network

After losing their first home game of the season Sunday night, the Brooklyn Nets will attempt to get back on the winning track Tuesday as they take on the young Phoenix Suns. 

Sunday’s 124–111 loss to Denver has left Brooklyn with mixed feelings. Despite a three-point halftime lead, the Nets allowed Denver to pull away with a 22-4 run to start the third quarter.

Kenny Atkinson’s team showed resiliency, cutting into what would have been a blowout loss and bringing the game to as close as a 12-point deficit. The Nets were led by Spencer Dinwiddie, who had a career-high 22 points off the bench, while Joe Harris tied his career high with 16 points, shooting 4-8 from three. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued showcasing his new improved offensive game, scoring 18 points on 8-12 shooting from the field.

The Phoenix Suns (2-4) come into Brooklyn following a 114-107 road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, still playing without the disgruntled Eric Bledsoe. Phoenix’s leading scorer in the game was Devin Booker with his 34-point contribution. The third-year guard toasted Brooklyn in the two team’s most recent matchup, scoring 28 points finishing 3-9 from three.

The Kentucky alum is currently averaging 20-6-4 this season. If the Nets hope to improve their home record to 4-1, stopping Booker is key to Brooklyn’s defensive strategy.

Tonight will also be the first time Brooklyn gets to see the No. 4 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Josh Jackson. The Kansas product has averaged almost 11 points per game this season, shooting 39 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep. 

Similar to Brooklyn, the Suns have allowed all opposing teams this season to score over 100 points, so expect this game to be an offensive showcase for the young players on both teams. Suns big man Alex Len may continue the trend of the Nets struggling against opposing bigs; the Ukrainian finished with 12 points and eight rebounds against Portland. Entering his fifth year, the center is currently averaging 10 points and eight rebounds for the season, which is well above his career average.

Three things to watch for 

  1. Brooklyn’s health

An early theme to this young Nets season is the roster seems to be a bit injury prone, even if not all the injuries are longterm. This started with Jeremy Lin going down for the season with a right knee injury, then D’Angelo Russell was forced to sit out the Cleveland game with a minor knee injury and has struggled shooting against both the Knicks and Nuggets since returning. 

Brooklyn’s frontcourt was exposed even more Sunday lacking both DeMarre Caroll and Quincy Acy, as Nikola Jokic scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Carroll is questionable to play against the Suns with right ankle soreness, while Acy remains out with a left groin strain. 

  1. The second unit

Led by Dinwiddie, the Nets bench unit has been a pleasant surprise this season. The backup point guard is averaging 11 points and almost six assists per game, and more impressively is shooting 42 percent from the field and downtown.

Trevor Booker, often the first man off the bench, scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Nuggets and will look to build on his career-high average of 11 points per game. Add in Joe Harris’ career-high 8.8 points per game, and the Nets bench has been solid so far this season. 

  1. Sean Kilpatrick

After appearing in 70 games and notching a career-high in minutes played in the 2016-17 season, the six-year guard has only appeared in three of the six games played so far this season. Kilpatrick was able to remind the Nets coaching staff off his aggressive offensive style when given an opportunity against the Knicks Friday night. He scored eight points in nine minutes, getting to the free throw line with ease.

Following that game, Kilpatrick was given 10 minutes against the Nuggets and scored six points and grabbed eight defensive rebounds. It will be interesting to see if Kilpatrick can reinsert himself in the Nets rotation and continue the trend of getting regular minutes.