Week of 02-22: Looking Ahead for the Scorching Nets
Six wins in six games, including a five-game West Coast trip. The last four games all without Kevin Durant. A half-game behind the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference. A three-game homestand to close out February. Nets fans, you can rejoice for the time being.
Your team is hitting their stride as they prepare to turn the calendar to March and continue their journey towards the top of the East. Despite the halfway mark of the season still, a couple of weeks away, the Nets are in great form and will be looking to continue their hot streak this week. All three of their games are at home against teams that are under .500. Even though the Nets still don’t have a timetable for Durant to return, there is still plenty of room for optimism.
Tuesday, February 23rd: Brooklyn Nets vs. Sacramento Kings
By the time the Kings and the Nets tip-off on Tuesday, not much time will have passed since their last encounter. Last week, on Monday, February 15th, the Nets hit a record-setting 27 three-pointers in their 136-125 win. Kyrie Irving led the scoring with 40 points while James Harden had a 29-14-13 triple-double. However, if I’m head coach Steve Nash, I’m looking to get my team to improve on defense. 125 points is a lot to concede and the Nets are lucky that 1) their offense was able to carry them and 2) the Kings have the worst defense in the league. Luckily, last week’s game was without Durant so at least the Nets know they can beat them without him.
Thursday, February 25th: Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic
This will be the second game between these two teams this season, with the first coming on January 16th. In that 122-115 win, Harden made his Nets debut with a 32-14-12 triple-double, becoming the only player to do so in franchise history. Additionally, Durant was feeling great to be back with his old teammate, scoring 42 points himself. Even though Durant won’t be here this time around, Irving can take some of that point-scoring burden as he didn’t play in that January game. On the other side of the court, the Magic are riding a three-game winning streak that includes two 30+ point performances from Nikola Vucevic. So, despite sitting in 12th place, I wouldn’t count the Magic out since they’re streaking too.
Saturday, February 27th: Brooklyn Nets vs. Dallas Mavericks
The last time the Mavs and the Nets played each other was more than a year ago. On January 2nd, 2020, the Mavs beat the Nets 123-111 at the American Airlines Center. Spencer Dinwiddie led the scoring for Brooklyn with 19 points, while Luka Doncic dropped 31 for Dallas. A lot has changed since then, with both teams in very different positions now. Dallas, despite being under .500, is only 1.5 games out of the playoffs after a four-game winning streak before Valentine’s Day. After some postponements last week due to severe weather, the Mavs return to action this week with four games in quick succession. Hopefully, the Nets can use this and the Barclay’s Center to their advantage.
A three-game homestand against favorable opponents this week softens the blow of not having Durant and puts the Nets in a prime position to keep their momentum. With the All-Star Break just a couple of weeks away, strong showings this week could help Brooklyn finish off the first half of the season strong.