It could’ve been worse. The Brooklyn Nets were shorthanded coming into Monday’s game against the Houston Rockets. They fell behind by a ton early and fought back as the game progressed, but ultimately fell short by 14 points. This is the last night of their brief three-game road trip. They’re back home to face the Hawks this weekend.
The opponent tonight will be the Dallas Mavericks. It’s been another difficult year for Dallas as they try to figure out which direction they take going forward. They lost to the Spurs in San Antonio on Monday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8:30.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson didn’t play on Monday due to an ankle sprain he suffered on Sunday and is listed as doubtful for this game. Allen Crabbe has been bothered by a bad back the past few days and he, too, is listed as doubtful. DeMarre Carroll missed Monday’s game but should be good to go tonight.
Seth Curry is working his way back from the stress reaction in his left tibia and won’t play tonight. Dorian Finney-Smith has been dealing with tendinitis in his quadriceps and will likely miss this game tonight. Josh McRoberts hasn’t played yet this year and likely won’t be suiting up tonight.
I need somebody to explain what the hell the Mavs are doing with Nerlens Noel. After a contentious offseason, Noel signed a one-year contract with the hope that he could put a big year together before reentering free agency in the summer. That hasn’t come close to happening and the Mavs are seemingly hellbent on keeping him on the bench. Over at Mavs Moneyball, Josh Bowe writes:
That’s the frustrating part, as the Mavs refuse to just let Noel run wild and see what they have before a massive off-season decision has to be made about Noel’s future. The Mavs season isn’t going anywhere and while, sure, Noel might not have earned his playing time, the Mavs owe it to themselves to collect as much data as possible on one of the most talented players on the roster.
Dallas shouldn’t be giving Noel everything he wants, but there also needs to be more of a back-and-forth. The Mavs need to develop him, because he should be an important part of their future. There’s a middle ground here between coddling Noel and treating him like roster filler that the team just has to find, for the Mavs sake and their future team-building plans.
The Mavs really should do themselves a favor and just trade Noel instead of letting him languish on the bench. Zach Lowe reported earlier this season that the Nets and 76ers had trade talks re Noel but they went nowhere. Sean Marks made it clear, Lowe wrote, that the Nets have no intention of giving up much on a player who they can get in free agency. And that was before they drafted Jarrett Allen.
With Carroll likely back in the lineup, he’ll be assigned to Harrison Barnes. Barnes isn’t a bad player, but I don’t think he’s someone that can be the lead option for your offense. Although he leads the team in scoring, he’s having his worst season from the field and three point line since his second year in the league.
Two other things to watch: will Isaiah Whitehead get minutes following his career-high game vs. Houston and will Kenny Atkinson once again use the 3-2 extend zone he employed with some success two nights ago.
Player to watch: Dennis Smith, Jr.
Through the first month and change of the season, Smith has shown lots of potential. Although the shooting percentages aren’t where you’d like them to be, he is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points a night. He loves to take it to the rim, as he’s 14th among all players in drives per game. He hasn’t had much success finishing at the rim, but he’s young and will get better in that department soon. The Mavs have a lot of big decisions to make this summer, but having Smith on hand will make things a bit easier.
Spencer Dinwiddie will be on the other side. He’s continued to keep things running well at point guard despite the injuries around him. He’ll look to keep the pace up against one of the slowest teams in the league. Even with the slow pace, we’ll still see a bevy of three pointers (although probably not the combined 89 three point attempts we saw on Monday). The Nets are second in three point attempts while the Mavs are third. They’re not all that good at it (21st and 24th in three point percentage), but better than long twos I guess?
From the Vault
Mark Aguirre is one of the great players from the 1980s that don’t get as much love as they deserve. Let’s correct that.
More reading: Mavs Moneyball