National Basketball Association
Portland at Brooklyn
When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 21, 2019
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn Nets are one of the biggest surprises of the season and they resume their pursuit of an Eastern Conference playoff spot when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Brooklyn opened 8-18 before recovering with a 20-6 stretch and stands in sixth place in the East despite losing five of its final seven games before the All-Star break.
The Nets have already surpassed last season's win total of 28 and know the final stretch of the season will be challenging as they seek their first playoff berth since 2015. "I'm glad we're kind of ahead of those expectations right now," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters. "But I look at the schedule and I think it's going to be a fight to be in the playoffs. I think it's going to be a down to the wire type of thing. That's how much respect I have for the teams we have to play and the schedule we have coming up. It's not a done deal by anything." Portland star point guard Damian Lillard (ankle) is listed as questionable for the contest. The Trail Blazers stand fourth in the Western Conference but are just 10-15 on the road as they begin a seven-game road trip.TV:
7:30 p.m. ET, NBCS Northwest (Portland), YES (Brooklyn)ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (34-23):
Portland added big man Enes Kanter for the stretch drive and figures he can provide some much-needed scoring punch from the bench. The Trail Blazers once signed Kanter to a four-year, $70 million offer sheet in the summer of 2015 when he was a restricted free agent but the Oklahoma City Thunder matched the offer. Kanter averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds in 44 games for the New York Knicks this season and is a major upgrade over second-year pro Zach Collins (6.8 points, 4.3 rebounds).ABOUT THE NETS (30-29):
Sharpshooter Joe Harris is averaging a career-high 13.9 points and shooting a career-best 47.1 percent from 3-point range and the first-year starter saw his status raise by outdueling Stephen Curry to win the 3-point shooting contest during All-Star Weekend. Harris carved himself a role over the previous two seasons but has been a solid fixture on the much-improved current edition of the Nets. "A lot of guys in this league have got a unique path," Harris told reporters. "It sometimes takes guys longer than others. Some guys come in right away and are able to contribute. But I think you look at the makeup of our Brooklyn Nets team, and it's a lot of guys that were sort of cast off and had a second opportunity. I personally was one of those guys, and I got lucky."BUZZER BEATERS
1. Trail Blazers C Jusuf Nurkic averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds as the teams split last season's two meetings.
2. Nets F Jared Dudley (hamstring) practiced on Wednesday and is set to return after missing the previous 16 games.
3. Portland SG Rodney Hood (stomach illness) is listed as probable.PREDICTION:
Nets 112, Trail Blazers 105
Stats and Records