Portland Trail Blazers (26-42) vs Brooklyn Nets (36-34)
The Portland Trail Blazers road trip continues with a matchup against the Brooklyn Nets in the Big Apple. At least they won’t have to travel far, having played the New York Knicks on Wednesday, losing by a score of 128-98.
The Nets have won four out of the last five and are looking to move up the standings. Currently in eighth place, they have some serious work to do if they want to avoid the play-in. Most recently Brooklyn lost a tight one to the Dallas Mavericks by the score of 113-111.
Friday, March 18- 4:30 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA TV, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Didi Louzada (out), Joe Ingles (out), Anfernee Simons (out)
Nets injuries: Joe Harris (out), David Duke Jr. (out), LaMarcus Aldridge (out), Seth Curry (out), Ben Simmons (out), Kyrie Irving (out)
SBN Affiliate: NetsDaily
What To Watch For
- No Kyrie. Kyrie Irving has been on fire lately, but he won’t be a factor in this one barring a last minute policy change from the city of New York. How much of a difference does that make? Since Kyrie started playing this season on January 5th, the Nets average 107.6 points per game at home, while averaging 117.4 points on the road. While not a perfect statistic, the main difference is that Kyrie is largely available to play on the road and not available at all to play at home. Fortunately for the Blazers they should get the lower-scoring home version of the Nets.
- Battle for the three point line. The Nets make the lowest number of three pointers per game for a home team in the NBA. For road teams, the Blazers are middle of the pack when it comes to made threes. That difference could easily decide a close game. Just one problem. Over the last nine games the Blazers have the second-last number of made three pointers in the League as well as the lowest percentage from deep.
- Turnovers. Another reason the Blazers have won only once in their last nine games is that they have been exceptionally sloppy with the ball. Over that stretch they’ve coughed it up 15.6 times per game, second-worst in the NBA. Cleaning that up has to be a priority if they want to compete .
What Others Are Saying
Bruce Brown is having a great season according to Kristian Winfield the New York Daily News.
Brown has proven, however, that under the right circumstances, he can thrive and be a complete player at his position. He has improved the glaring hole in his game — a previously broken three-point shot that is falling now with regularity — and Durant says the improvements aren’t coming to an end any time soon.
Alex Shiffer of the Athletic (subscription required) writes that the point guard position is going to be kind of an issue for the Nets.
Dragić’s role going forward becomes even more crucial after Nash announced Simmons’ rehab remains on hold until the Nets’ performance team sees how Simmons’ back takes to the epidural. Simmons has a history of back troubles. He missed eight games in the 2019-20 season because of nerve issues in his lower back and had a nerve impingement in the same area last season. According to former Sixers coach Brett Brown, one time in Milwaukee, the pain from the impingement had Simmons vomiting. Nash said surgery hasn’t been discussed for Simmons. With Irving eligible for three of the final 12 games and with the city’s timetable on lifting the mandate unknown, Dragić will likely be Brooklyn’s primary point guard for the rest of the season and possibly into the playoffs.
The Blazers won’t be seeing Ben Simmons during the regular season, but there is a chance that Simmons will finally take the court before the regular season ends reports Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons has remained sidelined with an irritation of the L-4 disc of the lower spine, but there’s hope he can return for a “couple” of regular-season games prior to the Eastern Conference playoffs, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.