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Portland Trail Blazers at Brooklyn Nets Preview

The flailing Blazers give it a go in Brooklyn.

NBA: NOV 03 Nets at Bulls Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers really need something positive to hang their hats on. The losing is kind of expected. It’s how they are losing that is becoming distressing these days. Losing to the Dallas Mavericks is one thing. Losing to a Luka-less Mavericks 139-103 is another. Yes, they are young, yes they have injuries. It’s ok to lose games to more talented and experienced squads. It’s just if you have to lose you want to do it with dignity intact. Lately that’s been a problem.

If you are grading on a curve, things might be more tense in Brooklyn right now. Until Friday night’s win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the only team the Nets had beaten since December 13th was the Detroit Pistons. Every other team they faced came away with a win against them, including the likes of the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Given the near free-fall, a 124-115 win over the Thunder was met with a giant sigh of relief in some quarters. They certainly played better against the Thunder than they have recently, so it could be the start of a little run. The Nets also won’t be sad to see Portland on the schedule, not only on Sunday but also in 10 days time in Portland.

Portland Trail Blazers (9-25) at Brooklyn Nets (16-20) - Sunday, Jan. 7 - Noon Pacific

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

Trail Blazers injuries: Robert Williams III (out), Deandre Ayton (out), Matisse Thybulle (out), Jabari Walker (out), Moses Brown (out)

Nets injuries: Ben Simmons (out)

SBNation Affiliate: NetsDaily

Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions

TomFowlery:

Can the Nets spot us 40?

A few days ago I would have said that 15 or 20 points wouldn’t have been out of the question. Their three-point shooting and three-point defense have been so bad lately that it was almost like spotting an opponent 15 points. After a reasonably good effort against the Thunder in their most recent game, I don’t think the Blazers should expect any gifts though.

CWBlazerfan:

With the Nets being a veteran team, why have they struggled so far this season?

Would Grant and Brogdon be good fits if Brooklyn is a deadline buyer?

They’ve certainly had injuries but in general they are who we thought they were. Before the season they were projected at 37.5 wins and that’s about the pace they are on. The Nets aren’t particularly well-constructed at this point and it’s hard to look at their roster and think it has championship quality. They are in a play-in spot and that shouldn’t be a big surprise, especially after their recent poor run.

It would seem the most likely path forward is a more aggressive rebuild, but if they do try to finesse it I think Brogdon would be a useful addition for the Nets. That would create a bit of a guard logjam, but that’s already a problem for Brooklyn. Dinwiddie is better at the 2 than running point, but Mikal Bridges is usually there. I could see the Nets moving Dinwiddie and bringing in a point guard, I just would think it would be part of a more major rebuild where they are looking for draft capital rather than giving it away to get Brogdon. As for Grant, he’s a fine player and could certainly find a role with the Nets. I just honestly couldn’t imagine why they’d want to take on his contract unless they thought he was someone who could put them over the top. They are just too far away to think like that.

What To Watch For

  • Shooting. As Mark W. Sanchez points out (referenced below) the Nets have been terrible from deep over the last few weeks. In the linked article he also documents that they’ve shot terribly from the field and from the free throw line too. It’s impressive: Over the last 13 games the Nets are 30th in the NBA from the field, 30th from beyond the arc and 29th from the free throw line. In their last game against the Thunder they were mediocre instead of unequivocally horrendous. Was that last game the outlier or the start of a trend toward minimal competence?

What Others Are Saying

Nets fans are in “what do we do now” territory. Read Anthony Puccio’s summation on NetsDaily and click on the “view results” button on their poll to see what fans are thinking the Nets should do.

In the meantime fans have to deal not just with the product on the floor. Fan morale is low, social media discussions ugly. The team just got fined $100,000 for violating the league’s player participation policy, essentially tanking a winnable game against the Milwaukee Bucks. While attendance is holding up — the Thunder game drew 18,147 including 400 standing room — YES Network’s ratings are down this season

Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post explains what the biggest problem has been lately for the Nets.

Since Dec. 14 and through this 2-10 stretch, the Nets have been dead last at both 3-point shooting (32.5 percent) and defending 3-pointers (opponents shooting 43.4 percent).

The Nets have given up an average of 15.6 3s per game in the stretch, the worst in basketball. Brooklyn is averaging 11.4 made triples per game in the span, essentially sacrificing 12 points per game from deep.

Hey, whatever happened to Ben Simmons? Sharif Phillips-Keaton on Yahoo Sports gives the inevitable update.

Simmons is currently rehabbing from a nerve impingement in his lower left back and has missed the past 28 games since he suffered his injury on Nov. 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Since that game, Simmons has been slowly rehabbing and ramping up from his injury in the hopes of joining the Nets sometime this season.