In an ABC Saturday primetime matchup, the Nets will travel to the Bay Area to take on the mighty Warriors. It will be the second time these teams have faced off this season. The first was on Nov. 16, where the Warriors blew out the Nets on their own court by a score of 117-99. Since Kevin Durant’s injury to his knee, the Nets have gone 2-4 in their last six games.
Meanwhile, the Warriors had a bit of a rough patch in the first few games without Draymond Green but have found their footing in their last six, going 5-1 in that stretch. Green will remain out for this contest and is expected to miss a larger chunk of time than anticipated. In addition to Green, Andre Iguodala and James Wiseman will also be out. Nemanja Bjelica is questionable with back spasms. On Brooklyn’s side, they have some good news entering tonight’s game. James Harden will return after a hamstring injury kept him out for one game. Kyrie Irving will also be in the lineup since the game is on the road in the Chase Center. Durant, Harris and Millsap are the three inactive Nets players for tonight.
How Brooklyn Can Win:
Kicking off the long road trip pic.twitter.com/YDNxjC0HHz
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 29, 2022
In games where James Harden and Kyrie Irving share the floor, the Nets have a 117.6 ORTG which would rank first in the NBA. Yes, it’s a small sample size but still an indicator of what the Nets are capable of even without Durant in the lineup. In addition to Irving and Harden, the Nets have allowed their rookies to play substantial minutes.
Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe have played good basketball all things considered. Edwards has shown his defensive prowess and versatility. Sharpe has been a great pick and roll partner with Harden who’s finished every lob the nine-time All-Star has thrown at him. Without Green, the Warriors defense is prone to major breakdowns which the Nets must exploit. There’s an obvious lack of communication so the Nets must move the ball and force rotations and closeouts.
This means more than just iso ball all day for Brooklyn. The key to a win for the Nets is James Harden prioritizing passing the ball rather than scoring it. Expect Harden to have 10-12 assists on the night and not over 30 points.
How Golden State Can Win:
It's a Lunar New Year Celebration!
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 29, 2022
In their last meeting with the Nets, Steph Curry had possibly his best game of the season. A 37 point, seven-rebound, and five-assist game on 63/64/100 efficiency splits, Curry was just toying with Brooklyn. Since then he’s been in what’s probably the longest slump of his career. However, maybe this is the game we see Curry erupt for an inhuman performance. Newly announced All-Star starter Andrew Wiggins has been another key cog in the Warriors’ two-way dominance. He’s been a knockdown three-point shooter at 41% and an excellent wing defender on the perimeter.
The two X-Factor’s for the Warriors in tonight’s game are Klay Thompson and Otto Porter Jr. In the case of Thompson, he’s played well in his return and is slowly but surely returning to form. But, we haven’t seen a classic Klay game yet and this is a spot where the Warriors could really use one. Porter Jr is also capable of a hot shooting night as Kerr has occasionally ran the offense through him to close games. It’s critical the Warriors get their A games from these two in order to keep up with the Nets’ firepower.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Nets: +6.5 (+210 ML)
Warriors: -6.5 (-255 ML)
Final Prediction: Warriors 122, Nets 116