The Nets point guard missed their three-game road trip in which wins over Portland and Detroit came either side of a drubbing from the Utah Jazz. His return comes as Brooklyn prepares to face three of the worst sides in the league this week.
Their first opponent on that run, the Minnesota Timberwolves, has shown signs of improvement recently with four wins in 10 games. But they are still firmly rooted to the bottom of the West with bottom-five offensive and defensive efficiency.
Fixture: Minnesota Timberwolves vs Brooklyn Nets | NBA Season 2020-21.
Date & Time: Monday, March 29, 2021; 7:30 PM ET (Tuesday, March 30th; 6:00 AM IST).
Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Minnesota Timberwolves Preview
The times don't get any easier for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who face the East's top two teams on the road this week.
Trading wins against the Houston Rockets over the weekend was preceded by a blowout loss to Dallas despite Luka Doncic having a rare off-night with 15 points.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are undoubtedly continuing their rebuild and have been hampered this season by injuries to key stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, the latter of whom still remains out.
Conceding over 127 points twice in the last three matchups is a worrying trend as the T-Wolves arrive in New York.
At least young star Anthony Edwards will be able to challenge two of the best guards in the league and work on his defensive game.
Key Player - Karl-Anthony Towns
In a turbulent season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, big man Karl-Anthony Towns remains one of the premier centers in the game. Over the last 10 matchups, no player in his position has averaged more points (26.8), while Towns also ranks third in assists in that time.
The 25-year old is shooting at an elite rate this year with close to 50-40-90 splits (53.7-40-86.7).
No player on the Minnesota Timberwolves side averages more points, rebounds or blocks per game than Towns, proving his worth to the T-Wolves even in their losing season.
Minnesota Timberwolves Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Ricky Rubio | Shooting Guard - Malik Beasley | Small Forward - Anthony Edwards | Power Forward - Jaden McDaniels | Center - Karl-Anthony Towns
Brooklyn Nets Preview
A blowout loss to Utah is nothing to worry about for Brooklyn Nets fans, who were without their three superstars for the matchup, considering James Harden put up his highest point tally in a Nets jersey the following night.
In a season with high expectations already, the Brooklyn Nets front office bolstered their roster even more this week by adding veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
This gives the Eastern Conference favorites a plethora of depth at center, with young star Nicolas Claxton recently proving his worth on the defensive end to Steve Nash.
There is no doubt the Brooklyn Nets are going to be a powerhouse come the postseason. Fans will just be hoping the defense can sort itself out by then and Kevin Durant's return is as smooth as can be.
Key Player - James Harden
James Harden has captained the ship without his fellow All-Stars this week and placed himself into MVP contention after a stunning 44-8-14 stat line against Detroit on Thursday.
Harden has adapted his game since moving to the Brooklyn Nets. Taking a high number of shots and driving to draw fouls has been replaced with an increase in shot variety (more often from within 3-10ft) and averaging a career-high 11.4 assists.
"The Beard" has been the Brooklyn Nets heartbeat since Durant was sidelined, and without Kyrie Irving this week, he proved he can be the side's leader if necessary come the playoffs.
His partnership with Blake Griffin this week was particularly encouraging for Nets fans, who will enjoy the two running a pick-and-roll sequence consistently going forward.
Brooklyn Nets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Kyrie Irving | Shooting Guard - James Harden | Small Forward - Joe Harris | Power Forward - Jeff Green | Center - DeAndre Jordan
Timberwovles vs Nets Match Prediction
Another win for the Brooklyn Nets is inbound. Having the most explosive offense in the league, even without Durant, spells trouble for the Minnesota Timberwolves defense.
If the Minnesota Timberwolves are to have any joy from this game, it will come in the paint where Karl-Anthony Towns will look to capitalize on the aging DeAndre Jordan and the inexperienced Claxton.
Where to watch the Timberwolves vs Nets Matchup
Monday night's fixture will be broadcast locally in America on the YES network and Fox Sports North. Meanwhile, fans can also stream the game live with an NBA League Pass.