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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Brooklyn Nets Preview

Portland welcomes the beleaguered Nets.

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Sacramento Kings Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (10-4) vs. Brooklyn Nets (6-9)

Carpet diem. The Portland Trail Blazers will again be sporting the PDX carpet jerseys as they welcome the Brooklyn Nets. In those same jerseys on Tuesday, the Blazers couldn’t find a way to put the San Antonio Spurs in the rear view mirror until late, but at the end of the day that’s what counts. The 117-110 score line probably flatters the Blazers a bit, but you take what you can get in the NBA.

The Brooklyn Nets have more negative storylines going simultaneously than most teams will have over an entire season. Is Kevin Durant happy? Will Kyrie Irving do at least the bare minimum to get back on the court? Does Ben Simmons care? How do you give up 153 points to the Sacramento Kings in a regulation game? Even the owner can’t escape some bad press. The Nets are a mess, but of course, a mess with Durant. He couldn’t prevent the Nets from losing to the Kings on Tuesday by a score of 153-121, but Thursday is a new day and the Nets would really like to make the long trip home a bit more pleasant with a win.

Trail Blazers vs. Nets - Thursday, November 17 - 7:00 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Gary Payton II (out), Olivier Sarr (out), Jusuf Nurkic (questionable), Keon Johnson (questionable), Justice Winslow (questionable)

Nets injuries: T. J. Warren (out), Kyrie Irving (out)

SBN Affiliate: Netsdaily

The Matchup

  • Jusuf Nurkić Coming back from injury isn’t easy, so let’s not nominate reserve center Drew Eubanks as the long term starter just yet. Nevertheless, it has to be said that Nurkić was pretty bad on Tuesday against the Spurs. It’s not all his fault that Jakob Poeltl scored a carrier high 31 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, but he was far from an innocent bystander. Rather more of a guilty bystander. The game against the Nets is another chance to get back some mojo...assuming he plays. Whether Nurkic or Eubanks suits up, Nic Claxton was the starting center for the Nets against the Kings. Domantas Sabonis beat Claxton every way possible. A healthy and locked-in Nurkić should be able to have his way with Claxton. While Nurkić might not quite be either of those things right now, this is a good opportunity to have some success and get some confidence. Of course after the performance against the Spurs the Blazers might just decide he needs more time to recuperate, in which case it’ll be up to Eubanks to run Claxton around the floor.
  • Challenge anyone not named Durant to perform One of the biggest on-court reasons the Nets are off to a slow start is that opponents are doing their utmost to make Kevin Durant’s life miserable. How do you do that? Lots of double (or triple) teams and physicality. With Kyrie Irving still unavailable and Ben Simmons averaging 5.8 points per game (if he even manages to suit up), forcing Durant to rely on his teammates means a pretty large drop in talent deciding the outcome of Nets games. Make no mistake, expect Durant to do Kevin Durant things and put up stats that would be the envy of most of the NBA, but a successful night for the Blazers almost certainly means that Durant was contained to mere mortal levels.
  • Hit them hard and fast The schedule gods are shining on Portland this game, with the Nets playing in the last game of a four-game road trip. On Tuesday, after about four minutes had elapsed in the second quarter, it was all Kings. By the end of the quarter the Kings lead by 19 and it was over. If the Blazers can hit them hard and build up an early lead it’s hard to see the Nets mounting a comeback. They’ll be thinking of the long trip home and hoping that Irving can come back and help turn things around.

What Others Are Saying

Marc J. Spears interviewed Kevin Durant for Andscape, and if Durant is upset about his situation he sure isn’t letting on.

As the dust settled about an hour after the blowout for the roller-coaster Nets, 12-time All-Star Kevin Durant was at peace, sporting a smile and wearing his trademark baseball cap. He expressed his gratitude for being able to play basketball for a living.

Net Income of Netsdaily says that the Nets’ controversies and problems don’t stop with the players. Owner Joe Tsai is up to his eyeballs in it as well.

Now, with his hardline stance on Kyrie Irving’s promotion of an antisemitic video, he has something new to cope with: criticism that paints him as hypocritical from a human rights perspective. The company he co-founded — and the main source of his wealth — has been accused by some of working with the Communist Party in its persecution of the Uighur Muslim minority which dominates in the northwest province of Xinjiang. Some have called it genocide. Somewhere beyond a million Uighurs have been sent to interment camps and blanket government surveillance is the rule. U.S. officials say they don’t have an accurate number of those imprisoned. There are few human rights issues of greater concern in the world.

The Nets record so far is poor, and to salvage the season the Nets feel they need Simmons to come through writes Shams Charania and Sam Amick (subscription required).

With Simmons’ lack of availability already a major issue for the Nets — not to mention his lackluster play when he had stepped foot on the court — the timing of his return couldn’t have been any better. Yet with the Nets desperately trying to save their season amid the recent departure of coach Steve Nash and the unresolved Kyrie Irving controversy, the skepticism about Simmons’ ultimate impact remains.