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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Brooklyn Nets Preview

The Blazers hope to keep winning on the road.

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (34-28) vs Brooklyn Nets (43-20)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn for the third game of a six game road trip. The Blazers are looking to pick up their third straight win after strong showings against the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers in their last two games. The Nets are looking to extend their winning streak to five games at home.

Friday, April 30 - 5:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out)
Nets injuries: James Harden (out), Kyrie Irving (questionable), Kevin Durant (out), Spencer Dinwiddie (out), Chris Chiozza (out), Nicolas Claxton (out), Bruce Brown (out)
SBN Affiliate: Nets Daily

What To Watch For

  • Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Both Irving and Durant are listed as questionable for tonight’s game, and the duo combines to score 54.5 points per game for Brooklyn. The Nets are already missing James Harden, and can not afford to lose both Irving and Durant as well. If the Blazers end up playing a Nets team missing all three members of the superstar big three, they can’t let the Nets take them by surprise and win by committee. If one or both of Irving and Durant end up playing, the hardest part of this contest will be trying to slow them down in order to pick up the win.
  • Damian Lillard. Lillard has been struggling by his standards recently, failing to reach 30 points in his last 11 games, shooting 36.3% from the field and 33.3% from three during that stretch. His recent play has raised some concerns about the workload he has been asked to carry so far this year and whether or not he can continue to produce at the level he had earlier this season. He will look to try and turn around his luck against a Brooklyn team that is missing a couple people in their normal back court rotation.
  • Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic has improved greatly in his last few games and is beginning to look more like Nurkic from 2019. In his last four games he has averaged 17 points and 13.8 rebounds, way up from his season averages of 10.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. Whether this is just a hot streak for Nurkic, or him finding his groove after the slew of injuries he has faced is one of the most important questions for the remainder of the Trail Blazers season. If it turns out to be just a hot streak, the Blazers would love for it to not end here, as having that reliable paint presence on the floor would help the Blazers beat the shorthanded Nets.

What Others Are Saying

Chris Milholen of Nets Daily talked about Kevin Durant’s defense, and how that helps the Nets’ versatility.

The 32-year-old’s rim protection adds a versatile element to the Nets. Durant, who has played the small forward while seeing minutes at the 4 and even a little as a small-ball 5, can maximize Brooklyn’s team spacing and “switch-ability” using his length and lateral quickness.

Steve Nash, who worked with Durant in Golden State as a development consultant, sees the value in his superstar’s rim protection. The Nets head coach referred to Durant as “an A defender.” Nash also stressed patience and doesn’t want to have him carry that load.

James Herbert of CBS Sports talks about how coach Steve Nash has kept the Nets stable despite the massive roster turnaround throughout the season.

Through all of the roster moves, injuries and health-and-safety-protocol-related absences, Nash has been as consistent as Joe Harris’ jumper. He has maintained Brooklyn’s defense would make or break the season and continually stressed the importance of “connectivity” on both ends, dating back to his hiring last September. After consecutive losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers shortly after acquiring Harden, Nash said the Nets needed to needed to take pride in their defense, stick together and understand that “just showing up to the gym is not good enough.” Their defense remains far from elite, but they have an identity. They typically switch 1 through 4 and show nail help when Jordan is on the floor, and they switch just about everything otherwise. Since Feb. 18, Brooklyn has allowed 111.6 points per 100 possessions, a league-average mark that represents enormous progress.