Portland Trail Blazers (11-8) vs. Brooklyn Nets (9-11)
The Portland Trail Blazers snapped their four-game losing streak by beating the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in overtime by a score of 132-129 on Friday night. It was the Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons Show, with the former scoring 44 and the latter ringing up 38.
The Brooklyn Nets meanwhile traveled to Indianapolis and were defeated 128-117 by the Indiana Pacers. Four Indiana players had 20 points or more and the Nets were outscored in the fourth quarter 40-23.
The Blazers and Nets faced each other on Nov. 18 in Portland when the Nets won 109-107. Royce O’Neale was the somewhat unlikely hero, tipping in the game-winner on the way to a triple-double.
Trail Blazers vs. Nets - Sunday, November 27 - 12:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Gary Payton II (out), Drew Eubanks (questionable), Justice Winslow (probable). UPDATE: Eubanks and Winslow have been upgraded to “active.”
Nets injuries: T. J. Warren (out), Yuta Watanabe (out), Alondes Williams (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Netsdaily
- Ben Simmons. When the Blazers played the Nets on Nov. 17, Simmons had one double-digit scoring game at that point in the season: the game before against the Sacramento Kings. Now he’s rattled off a string of six games in a row with double figures, including 20 against the Pacers Friday night. The fine game he had against Portland a week and a half ago was apparently not an aberration. After all this time it looks like Simmons has finally returned to being an impact player night in and night out. Expect him to be so again against Portland.
- Kyrie Irving. Kyrie has four games under his belt since his suspension and he’s back to scoring in volume and with high efficiency. That hasn’t necessarily translated into wins as Brooklyn is .500 since Kyrie’s return. The best-case scenario for the Nets is that they are a work in progress and once they figure things out they will be a strong contender in the East. On paper they certainly have the talent The worst-case scenario is that this mix of players will never go anywhere. While it’s kind of hard to see the Nets turning into world-beaters right now, it may be fortunate the Blazers get another crack at them now rather than later in the season.
- Will Brooklyn’s defense show up? When the Nets have won this year, opponents have scored 99.3 points on average. When they lost, opponents torched them for 122.2 points. Of course, you’d expect a team to give up more points in losses than wins, but that difference is ridiculous. For comparison, the Blazers give up 107.8 in wins and 113.6 in losses. It’s hard not to attribute that contrast to effort. Will we get a high-effort-defense game from Brooklyn? That question may well determine the final result.
What Others Are Saying
Why are strong teams losing to short-handed teams? Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reports that Kyrie feels that young players are just really good.
Instead, after Brooklyn’s win against the Toronto Raptors on Thanksgiving Eve, Irving suggested the talent in the NBA — particularly the young talent — is beginning to close the distance between themselves and the league’s elite veteran players.
Neither Simmons nor Nic Claxton are very good shooters. Can the Nets afford to have both on the court at the same time? Net Income of Netsdaily says yes.
So in those last six games, not only can they play together. They can, given the right circumstances, play well together. As Lewis also points out, it is a work-in-progress.
When the Nets lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, the Inside the NBA crew lit them up.