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Features

On the Lookout: Catch the Nets-Suns and Nuggets-Celtics games

February 16, 2021, 5:00 PM ● Miguel Flores

The Brooklyn Nets hope to continue winning in Phoenix, while Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets head to Boston.

Saying the Brooklyn Nets are must-watch is like saying Better Call Saul is a classic. Both are pretty obvious statements, even if neither has seen a conclusion. Better Call Saul knocked out an incredible fifth season, needing only to nail its landing in the upcoming final season to be cemented as one of the best shows ever on TV. In a similar way, the Nets have gathered the necessary pieces to assemble a championship team. All that's left now is to actually get it.

Ever since their Big Three came together, the Nets have been fun to watch, regardless if they win or not. They are now in the middle of a critical West Coast road trip that takes them to the Phoenix Suns' home turf tomorrow at 11:30 AM on NBA TV Philippines.

When Brooklyn's Big Three share the court, they’re an unstoppable offensive juggernaut. The Nets will be without Kevin Durant tomorrow -- a key absence for many teams – which is an opportunity for Kyrie Irving and James Harden to continue jelling.

The Nets have been crafty in addressing their defensive concerns, but they have still allowed a ton of points for any team with a decent perimeter scorer. They are third in offensive rating, but only 25th in defensive rating. That wide gap does not exist in a champion team, which usually finishes in the top 10 of both categories (the last champion to be in the top 10 of only one category is the 2004 Detroit Pistons). Their current small-ball plan will be put to the test against the Suns.

A young team that used to run and gun slowed their pace significantly because of Chris Paul's adult supervision. The Suns are 29th in the league in pace, but having few possessions is an advantage when you have Paul managing who takes the shots, especially in the fourth quarter.

Devin Booker has continued to be a sweet-shooting force and the Suns have done a good job of developing long, athletic wings in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson to help on the defensive end. Even Deandre Ayton has perked up as an interior defender while taking a step back on the offensive end.

Phoenix is well-equipped to guard teams like the Nets, even if KD plays. This is one of those games that has the potential to come down to the final five minutes with both teams throwing haymakers.
The Nets could use a statement win, especially coming into the second half of back-to-back games, while the Suns need all the momentum they can get in a tight Western Conference race.

Meanwhile, look out also for the Denver Nuggets (15-11) visiting the Boston Celtics (13-13) at 8:00 AM on NBA League Pass.

Both have been greatly affected by the pandemic with absences from key players due to COVID-19 protocols, on top of the injuries brought upon by the condensed season.

Nikola Jokic is as must-watch as it gets and he should feast against a floundering Boston frontcourt, whose best option against him is Tristan Thompson.

On the other hand, the Celtics are hashing out the chemistry among their trio of stars in Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker. Those three could be unguardable but they haven't shared the court enough this season to work out the kinks.
This could be a blowout with Jokic going for an insane triple-double, but the Celtics can also make it competitive if they are able to utilize their pieces well.