Nets try to dash Detroit’s Playoff hopes

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Nets try to dash Detroit’s playoff hopes

Opponent: Detroit Pistons
Time: 7:30 PM EST
Location: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO
Listen: 660 AM, 101.9 FM

It was a tough weekend. The Brooklyn Nets lost two close games over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. On Friday, they lost to the Boston Celtics in a game that went down to the final possession. On Sunday afternoon, Brooklyn dropped a game to the Dallas Mavericks after fighting back by trailing by as much as 18 points. Dallas was led by strong play from J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki, while Brooklyn countered with strong play from Brook Lopez and Spencer Dinwiddie. Brooklyn fell to 13-56 on the season, but they continue to play with effort (AKA Brooklyn Grit) every single game.

Unfortunately, the two losses were compounded by a Jeremy Lin ankle injury. Lin exited the game in the first quarter after landing awkwardly after a missed shot. Lin is doubtful for Tuesday’s game, and he is looking to return to the team before the end of the season. He may join wings Sean Kilpatrick and Joe Harris on the sidelines. Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie may have to play some heavy minutes going forward. It might be the pre-All Star Break Nets all over again.

The Nets will try to bounce back from their rough weekend as they play the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

The Nets’ last matchup against the Pistons was on November 2nd, the Nets’ fifth game of the season. Brooklyn won that game, 109-101. Brook Lopez and Sean Kilpatrick, who scored 34 and 24 points respectively, led Brooklyn to victory. On the other side, Andre Drummond was held to 6 points, with Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris leading the way for the Pistons. That game is also notable because Jeremy Lin suffered his initial hamstring injury in the second half of that game. It was and has been a bumpy road for Lin in his first season with the Nets.

Since then, the two teams have gone in opposite directions. Brooklyn has undoubtedly struggled all season, even though their effort may not match with their record. Detroit has fought throughout the season, and they are currently in contention for a playoff bid. Although the quest for the 8th seed may be the “play LeBron in the first round” bowl, a playoff appearance would be a nice accomplishment for a team still trying to find their identity under Stan Van Gundy.

Detroit won their most recent game, beating the Suns 112-95 on Sunday. They were led by strong rebounding performances from Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes, who combined for 31 points and 35 rebounds. The Pistons improved to 34-36 on the season after their victory on Sunday.

3 Things to Watch for in Nets-Pistons:

1. Playoff Spoiler

The Pistons are in a sticky five-team race for the 6, 7, and 8 seeds in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Pacers, Heat, Bulls, Bucks, and Pistons are all within 2.5 games of each other in the win-loss column. As of Tuesday morning, the Pistons hold the eighth seed, owning the tiebreaker against the Heat. So the Pistons will definitely give it their all, especially in the final 12 games of the season. Brooklyn has to match up and compete with a motivated Pistons team and try to play spoiler. So the biggest winners with a Nets’ victory could be Dion Waiters and the Heat indirectly.

The Nets must stop the rebounding dominance of the Pistons, who are first in the league in defensive rebounding rate. Andre Drummond, the talented, but offensively limited big man will lead Detroit. Brook Lopez played well against Drummond last time, so he will try to replicate his success. Spencer Dinwiddie will likely re-enter the starting lineup, and be matched up against a former Lopez trade return piece, Reggie Jackson. It will be competitive.

Here’s a look at Drummond’s performance against the Suns

2. Hi, Archie! Hey, K.J.!

With Joe Harris, Jeremy Lin and Sean Kilpatrick all likely out for Tuesday night’s contest, the Nets may use Archie Goodwin and K.J. McDaniels in extended minutes. Goodwin made his Nets debut Sunday, scoring 4 points and assisting on two Nets buckets. Coach Kenny Atkinson even suggested that Goodwin could see some time at the point guard slot, per the New York Post. McDaniels looked impressive in the first half against Dallas, scoring 8 points on 2 three-point field goals. McDaniels, who has struggled throughout his career as a shooter, may be starting to figure out his role in the NBA.

It will be an important “prove it” game for both young wings. Goodwin’s 10-day contract will expire on Saturday, so he has to prove that he’s worth an extended look with strong play. McDaniels has a team option for next season, and he is auditioning for a roster spot during the Nets’ 2017-2018 season. They will be matched up against wings Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, and Long Island native Tobias Harris.

3. You down with KCP? Yeah, you know me!

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be a major name in restricted free agency this season. The 24-year old guard has had a solid season, scoring 14 points per game with solid defense. It will be interesting to see the Nets’ potential free agency target firsthand. Zach Lowe and Howard Beck mentioned that the Nets might be a team that throws a max offer sheet at Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope may not be a super efficient scorer – he shoots 40% – but he has a high upside as a two-way guard. The Nets have needed that presence on both ends of the court all season. KCP played well against Phoenix, scoring 23 points on an efficient 8-of-14 from the field. But prior to that, he scored less than double digits in five of his last eight games. Randy Foye and Caris LeVert will be tasked with guarding KCP.

Pre-game coverage starts at 7:00 PM on the YES Network. Be sure to follow @TheBKGame on Twitter for live coverage of Tuesday night’s contest against the Pistons. See you tonight!