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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Brooklyn Nets Preview

The Blazers hope to get back on track as they welcome the fast-paced Nets to Portland.

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (6-5) vs. Brooklyn Nets (4-7)

Friday, November 10th - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Meyers Leonard (out), Al-Farouq Aminu (out)
Nets injuries: Jeremy Lin (out), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (questionable), Trevor Booker (questionable), Jarrett Allen (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Nets Daily

The Portland Trail Blazers and Brooklyn Nets will both be well rested after not playing since Tuesday. After a relatively hot start to the season, the Nets have lost six of their last seven games. The Blazers are a CJ McCollum jump shot away from riding a three-game winning streak into tonight’s matchup. Instead, they look to rebound from yet another close loss.

What to watch for

  • Fast-paced scoring. Brooklyn leads the league in pace of play with 110 possessions per game. That tempo has resulted in a lot of points scored for the Nets, who are scoring 111.9 points per game (second to only the Warriors’ 119.1). It’s also resulted in teams scoring a lot against them. The Nets are giving up the most points in the NBA at 116.2 per game, and have only held one opponent under 100: the Suns earlier this week. Besides playing quickly, Brooklyn is shooting a high volume from three. They put up nearly 33 3-pointers per game—third behind only Houston and Golden State—and are making 32.9 percent.
  • A big game from Nurk? The Nets have struggled with opposing big men. They’ve allowed an average of 34.4 points per game on 55.7 percent shooting to frontcourt starters in 11 games according to Nets Daily’s Anthony Puccio. Five big men have scored more than 30 against them this year, and three—Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokic—scored 41, all career highs. Jusuf Nurkic had a poor showing against Memphis on Tuesday, but in the two games prior he averaged 26.5 points on a combined 23 of 35 shooting.
  • Allen Crabbe’s return to Portland. The Blazers traded Crabbe this offseason in an effort to unload his $19 million salary. Crabbe averaged 10.7 and 10.3 points on just over 8 shots per game in his past two seasons. The expectation was that he would have an expanded role in Brooklyn, but Crabbe’s numbers so far are nearly identical to his last couple years with Portland. He’s scoring slightly more (11.1 PPG) but shooting worse (37.5 percent vs. 46.8 percent last year) and averaging four fewer minutes per game (24.7) than he did in his final year with the Blazers. He’s taking more threes than he did in Portland (5.4 vs. 3.8 attempts per game), but making only 0.4 more.

What they’re saying

The Nets have been without starter Jeremy Lin since the first game of the season and have suffered through several other injuries to key players early. Nets beat writer Greg Logan wrote about the continuity difficulties that these injuries have created.

The Nets were missing power forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Trevor Booker as well as rookie center Jarrett Allen, their best rim protector, for a 112-104 loss Tuesday night in Denver. Coach Kenny Atkinson admitted going with some “funky lineups” because he was forced to mix in a seventh new face, two-way contract forward Jacob Wiley, for 21 minutes as part of the regular rotation.

“It’s a challenge for continuity, which is the big thing, especially with a new team, just getting your rhythm,” Atkinson said. “It’s continuity in the lineups where you want the same guys playing together. We’re mixing and matching right now.”

Brooklyn traded for D’Angelo Russell this offseason, acquiring the 2015 second overall pick from the Lakers in a deal that also included Timofey Mozgov for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in last year’s draft (Kyle Kuzma). On Monday, The Ringer’s John Gonzalez wrote about Russell’s rocky seasons in Los Angeles and his improved play in Brooklyn.

The Nets bet big on bringing Russell to Brooklyn. Eight games into the season, he’s averaging 21.1 points (on 44.4 percent shooting from the field), 5.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds, all of which are career highs. His usage rate has also exploded to 34.1, compared to 26.6 with the Lakers a year ago.

All that heavy lifting works out some nights. Other evenings, like Friday night, it’s a bit of a strain. Russell had 17 points (on 8-for-24 shooting), seven assists, seven rebounds, and three steals against his old team.