Neither the Brooklyn Nets nor the Portland Trail Blazers have had much to crow about lately. The Nets have won just a single game in their last nine tries, the Blazers just one of their last eight.
Despite that, both teams have shown signs of life, with the Nets taking the Miami Heat to overtime (the first overtime game in nearly five years where neither team cracked 100 points), and the Blazers’ youngest players popping off for career highs in multiple categories in a closer-than-it-looked loss to the Phoenix Suns.
It’s within this context - not playing particularly well, but showing sparks of late - that these two opposite coast teams come together in Portland.
For the Blazers, it’s hard to get past how well the rookies played against Phoenix and cast a wandering eye toward the trade deadline. After all, if the Blazers are going to lose anyway, why not be losing while ALSO watching the next generation of Blazers AND position your team’s future a bit better?...but that’s a bit far afield.
For today, there’s a game to be played, and all we can do is hope the home team is the one that snaps their losing streak first.
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Ibou Badji, Deandre Ayton (probable); Malcolm Brogdon (questionable); Shaedon Sharpe, Robert Williams III, Moses Brown (out)
Nets injuries: Ben Simmons, Dariq Whitehead, Day’Ron Sharpe (out).
Nets SBN affiliate: NetsDaily
About the Opponent
Brian Lewis for the New York Post writes about how Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has been pushed out of the lineup:
Slumping Spencer Dinwiddie lost playing time Monday night, with Dennis Smith Jr. logging 32 minutes off the bench and Cam Thomas 31. Dinwiddie finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting and was minus-13 in 20 minutes of action. “I’ve always talked about this being performance-based,” [Nets head coach Jacque] Vaughn said. “I thought Dennis had a good attack for us defensively. We’re just in a position right now where you have to perform, and that’s across the board. So that’s a challenge to the entire group from the beginning of the game to the end to be locked-in and to give everything you have on both ends of the floor.
CJ Holmes of the New York Daily News wrote about Vaughn’s questionable decision-making at the end of Brooklyn’s close overtime loss to the Heat:
Butler drew a foul with 11.8 seconds left in overtime and made both free throws to put Miami up 96-95. Dennis Smith Jr. was Butler’s defender during the play in question, and whether he fouled Butler or not was debatable. Head coach Jacque Vaughn decided not to challenge the call, seemingly to preserve a timeout to set up a game-winning shot. But when Brooklyn got the ball back, he opted not to take the timeout anyway. The Nets then had to go the full length of the court on their final possession of the game and failed to get a clean look. Game over. “I got a chance to look at it real quickly during the game and just felt they weren’t going to overturn that,” Vaughn said. “We felt Dennis had his left arm wrapped around the backside of the driver, and I didn’t think using the timeout they were going to overturn that call.” That explains the rationale behind not challenging Smith’s foul, but why no timeout at the end of overtime?
Net Income from NetsDaily suggests that Brooklyn isn’t looking for the kind of wipe-the-slate-clean type of rebuild that Portland is very likely in the beginning stages of:
The Nets, according to Lewis and a slew of other sources, including our own, are making other players available, specifically Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale. “Seeing at least one if not two moved in the comings weeks seems likely,” Lewis wrote. Brooklyn reportedly wants two first-rounders or equivalents like young players for DFS, one for O’Neale... despite the team’s woeful record and increasing controversy — see fan reaction to end-of-game decisions in the loss to Miami — don’t expect any big trades involving the team’s bulwarks like Mikal Bridges. In fact, the Nets rejected an offer for Bridges at the deadline last year that would have brought back four first rounders.