Brooklyn Nets vs. Phoenix Suns Preview 2/1/2022

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets vs. Phoenix Suns Preview 2/1/2022

NBA Game Previews

Brooklyn Nets vs. Phoenix Suns Preview 2/1/2022

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Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

A real East vs West showdown will take place in the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona at 10 p.m. ET. The Nets are currently 29-20 on the season and have slipped down the standings since being 1st just three weeks ago. They’re in the middle of an eight-game west coast road trip that’s seen them lose the first four games of the stand.

With four games left on deck, this is the pivotal one that could turn around the extended road trip. Meanwhile, the Suns are on a league-leading 10-game win streak. As the home team, Phoenix is 21-5 (81%) which is the best home winning percentage in basketball. Interestingly enough, the Nets are 17-7 on the road which far exceeds their mediocre 12-13 home record.

The injury report list ahead of tonight’s game is rather lengthy. Suns inactives: Deandre Ayton, Cam Payne, Landry Shamet, Dario Saric, Jae Crowder, Abdel Nader, and Frank Kaminsky. Nets inactives: Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, Paul Millsap, and LaMarcus Aldridge. James Harden is questionable with a right-hand sprain but the Nets are optimistic he will be able to make his return tonight. 

How Brooklyn Can Win: 

It’s been the Kyrie Irving show as of late with Harden and Durant out of the lineup. He’s been brilliant in eight games averaging 24 ppg and 5 apg on 58% TS. However, the one-man act hasn’t led the Nets to getting into the win column as of late. As bright as the future may be for rookies like Cam Thomas and Kessler Edwards, it’s hard to expect them to be heavy contributors on a nightly basis. If they have Harden back then they’ll have a much better shot at winning this contest.

That’s blatantly obvious but still holds true. One area that the Nets must key in on is their tendency to switch on defense. Chris Paul and Devin Booker love to get an advantage with ball screens and get into the mid-range area. The counter to this is to not play in a drop but instead switch which negates any immediate advantage. Both teams defend the three exceptionally well as the Nets allow opponents to shoot 32% from three which ranks second. For an X-factor for Brooklyn give me Blake Griffin. 

How Phoenix Can Win: 

It gets boring to say but the recipe for the Suns is really the same as it always is. Let Paul and Booker create and everyone else finish off the plays they create. Statistically, there aren’t too many weaknesses with this Suns team on both sides of the ball. They rank inside the top 10 in offensive rating, defensive rating, points in the paint, rebounding percentage, three-point shooting, opponents points in the paint and three-point shooting, and free throw percentage.

It’s a well-oiled machine that Monty Williams is the captain of and it runs even when key players miss time. Among the players less talked about for the Suns is Mikal Bridges. He’s quietly having an incredible defensive season and is easily a first-team All-Defense selection in my book if the year ended today. Expect Bridges to match up with Kyrie or Harden a fair amount of possessions as he’s best suited to stop them. The Sun’s X-factor is Cam Johnson who’s shooting 45.7% from three in his last 16 games. 

The Spread Via FanDuel: 

Suns -6.5 (-300 ML) 

Nets +6.5 (+230 ML) 

 

Final Prediction: Suns 119, Nets 112 

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