Brooklyn is hoping to make up for their loss to Phoenix earlier this season now that they are favored by 2.5 points
While the Cavaliers and Knicks duke it out over a lottery pick, the Nets and the Suns head into tonight’s game with a completely different focus and mindset. Phoenix is looking to improve on its 20-29 record as they find themselves four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. As for the Nets, they are looking to continue to improve on their playoff position now that they currently sit at the 7th seed in the East with a 21-27 record. A win would be monumental for either team’s playoff hopes.
The first time that these teams faced off, Brooklyn was without Kyrie Irving, who had missed a good amount of games at that time due to a significant injury. The Nets struggled immensely in that game. It was Spencer Dinwiddie who would lead the way for Brooklyn with 18 points. Deandre Jordan also put up 16 points himself on his way to a double-double. Beyond that, it was pretty much a “throw away the tape” kind of outing for Brooklyn. The Nets made things close in the middle of the second quarter, but Phoenix ended up running away with the game on their way to a 138-112 win. Devin Booker was excellent as always in that one with 27 points and nine assists, but Booker got some help in the victory. Six other players recorded at least ten points in the game, and Ricky Rubio had a double-double with 22 points and 12 assists. This time, things will be a bit closer, but I don’t think the result will be all that different.
At this moment, the Nets have kind of gotten used to playing without Kyrie Irving. The superstar guard has missed significant time this year due to a variety of injuries and personal matters. The former number one overall pick has only played in 20 games this season for the Nets. Honestly, Brooklyn has been just okay in games that he has played. The Nets are 8-12 in the 20 games that Kyrie has played in which leaves a lot to be desired. Meanwhile, Brooklyn has a 13-15 record when Kyrie Irving has not played. That is as good, if not better, than their record when Irving has been in. Brooklyn may be comfortable playing without the services of one of the best players in the NBA, but this is one of the games that I do not expect to go in their favor.
I just think that Phoenix will present too much of an offensive threat for Brooklyn to be able to keep up without their leading scorer and best player this year. The Suns put up 112.9 points per game, which is the 11th best mark in the NBA. As for the Nets, they have allowed every team they have played to score at least 110 points in their last five match-ups. Over that five game stretch, Brooklyn’s opponents are averaging 113.4 points per game. If this game turns into an offensive battle, which I’m sure it will, then this matchup will favor the Suns. I like Phoenix to win this one outright!