Nets Gameday: Brooklyn braces for Windy City showdown

Brooklyn Nets
Dec 4, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) dunks in front of Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball (2) and center LaMarcus Aldridge (21) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets have not faired well against elite teams in the NBA this season. They have a dismal 0-8 record against the top four teams in the East and the West, and now head to Chicago to face the Bulls on Wednesday (10 p.m.).

The Bulls have a 2.5 game lead on the Nets for first place in the Eastern Conference and they’ve won 10 of their last 11 games. The Nets have dropped five of their past seven games, and could be without Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

Both were listed as questionable on Tuesday by the Nets. Harden missed Monday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers because of a left knee hyperextension and Irving appeared to hurt his ankle during a late play in Monday’s game.

Head coach Steve Nash appeared to be confident that Harden would play on Wednesday and Irving told reporters that he would play against the Bulls, despite the scary nature in which he fell on his ankle. Both players did take part in the shootaround on Wednesday morning, according to several reporters in Chicago.

Now with both players’ statuses up in the air, the bulk of the workload could fall on Kevin Durant, yet again. Durant carried them during their COVID outbreak before he too had to be sidelined because of the virus.

The Nets superstar has logged a ton of minutes over recent games, including back-to-back 40-plus minute nights on Sunday and Monday. However, that hasn’t discouraged Durant from wanting to continue to rack up the miles in games.

“No. Let me die out there,” Durant said. “Nah, I’m just playing. No, I’m not concerned but whenever coach wants to give me a day, I’ll support it, but I’m not looking for one. I’m just going to play until they tell me that I’m sitting out. That’s not on my mind while I’m playing. That’s not on my mind when I’m going into a game or preparing for a game. It is what it is. I got to play 40, so what? I’m going to play. They tell me to sit out, I’ll do the same thing.”

The Nets could also be without Nic Claxton, and LaMarcus Aldridge will miss Wednesday’s game due to right foot soreness.  That would mean Day’Ron Sharpe would be counted on to have another big game again for Brooklyn.

Chicago appeared more than ready to face the Nets. They recently had their 10 game winning streak snapped, but got things back on track by handily defeating the Detroit Pistons.

The Bulls have already faced the Nets on two prior occasions this season, each time getting the best of Brooklyn.

“To be the best in this league, you gotta compete against the best,” DeMar DeRozan said, according to NBC Sports Chicago. “(Wednesday) is going to be one of those fun games. I’m pretty sure they’re going to come in here for some type of revenge, especially having Kyrie back. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s one of those games you look forward to.”

Nets Notables

Brooklyn is 8-0 this season when holding its opponent under 100 points. The Nets have won a franchise-record 25 straight games when holding their opponent under 100 points. … The Nets have outrebounded their opponent in 13 of their last 17 games after doing so eight times in their first 22 games. … For the third time in three meetings, Brooklyn will meet Chicago on a back-to-back. The first occurred on the back end after facing Toronto on Nov. 11 and the second time occurred in December after they faced the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Nets Injury Report

  • Nic Claxton (left hamstring tightness) — Questionable
  • James Harden (left knee hyperextension) — Questionable
  • Kyrie Irving (left ankle sprain) — Questionable
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (right foot soreness) — Out
  • Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) — Out

Trail Blazers Injury Report

  • Alex Caruso (Health and Safety Protocols) — Out
  • Tyler Cook (Left Ankle Sprain) — Out
  • Javonte Green (Right Adductor Strain) — Out
  • Patrick Williams (Left Wrist Ligament Tear) — Out

How to Watch

Monday’s game will air on YES Network with Ian Eagle, Sarah Kustok, and Michael Grady on the broadcast. Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw will have the call on the radio on 101.9 FM WFAN.