Sometimes, buzzer beaters aren’t so fun. The Brooklyn Nets found out the hard way after Jimmy Butler knocked down a jumper to give the Bulls a two point win on Wednesday night. Two days prior, Randy Foye hit a buzzer beater to give the Nets the victory over Charlotte. Life is funny that way.
Closing out 2016 with the Nets will be the Washington Wizards. They beat the Pacers Wednesday night and have won seven straight games at home.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.
Jeremy Lin didn’t play on Wednesday and is out tonight. Joe Harris also didn’t play on Wednesday and he’s questionable for tonight. Chris McCullough remains on assignment to the D-League.
Bradley Beal sprained his ankle on Wednesday and is day-to-day.
Washington won the first meeting earlier this month.
On the surface, the Wiz appear to be underachieving, but there’s room for optimism in DC. Their point differential suggest that they’re a bit better than their record suggests, and with the bottom of the Eastern Conference being what it is, Washington has plenty of time to get above .500 and secure a playoff spot.
Brooklyn’s penchant for turning the ball over could prove fatal tonight. They’re third in turnover rate this season while the Wizards are third in forcing turnovers. The Nets allow the most points off turnovers per game in the league and if they’re sloppy, Washington will have a bevy of easy scoring opportunities.
If they do want to make it back to the playoffs, they’re going to need John Wall to keep up the stellar play. Wall’s having the best season of his career and as always, his ability to break defenders down off the dribble and finish strong at the rim creates trouble for opposing defenses. For Isaiah Whitehead and Randy Foye, their best bet to slow Wall down is to bait him into long jumpers. Although he’ shooting a career best 42.1 percent on shots from 16 feet to the three point line, you’d rather he take those than shots at the rim where he can draw fouls.
The matchup at power forward should be an interesting one. Trevor Booker has been a bright spot for Brooklyn and is the team’s leading rebounder. Markieff Morris has tons of potential, but his game has continued to be inconsistent. He has moments where he looks like he can be a solid starting power forward and others where you wonder what the hell he’s doing out there.
Player to watch: Otto Porter
This appears to be the season that the former lottery pick puts it all together. He’s averaging career highs in points, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three point percentage, rebounds, and a career low in turnovers. He’s been a great third option on offense, however with his free agency coming up this summer, there is question as to whether he is a good enough player to invest big money in. Over at Bullets Forever, Marcus Atkinson Sr. wrote:
The early returns say no. While many will argue that this trio is not the reason why this team is losing this season so much as it is the lack of talent around them, signing Porter to a max contract does absolutely nothing to fix this issue. As was mentioned earlier, Porter’s contract would take away any chance of cap flexibility for the next couple of seasons, which would make it difficult to add much more talent through free agency. Then at the end of the 2018-19 season, Wall will be due for another contract, which could shoot this trio’s salary alone over $80 million annually. And don’t forget, Ian Mahinmi would still have still have another year left on his deal worth $16 million.
This summer figures to be huge for Ernie Grunfeld and Wizards management. They have to decide what to do with Porter and determine whether he is someone that can be a player that can get the Wiz to the top of the division going forward.
Could Porter be a target for the Nets this summer? Do not bet against it.
With Joe Harris hobbled, Bojan Bogdanovic figures to be back in the starting lineup again. He and the other Nets had a tough time dealing with Jimmy Butler on Wednesday, but they should have a bit of an easier go of it tonight. Like Porter, Bogdanovic will be a restricted free agent this summer. And like the Wizards, the Nets will have to decide whether their starting forward will be worth the resources needed to maintain his services over the next couple of years.
From the Vault
Ultimately it was a disappointment, but Michael Jordan had some amazing moments as a member of the Wizards.
More reading: Bullets Forever