It feels like it’s been an eternity since the Nets stepped foot on the court last. 3 days, evidently, feels like a very long time as an NBA follower. The coaching staff and players will be hoping 72 hours is enough time to address the concerns after the subpar showing against Indiana.
Brooklyn looks to get their name back on the winner’s list as they take on Cleveland away from home. Here’s a few things to keep an eye in the upcoming matchup.
Shabazz Napier will suit up for the first time as a Net tonight. The former Trailblazer provides a point of difference for Brooklyn’s backcourt as a shorter guard (6’1). He won’t be playing a massive role as he looks to find game fitness, as coach Atkinson told reporters.
“Don’t expect big minutes from him but we’ll build him up. I think he’ll be that spark plug. I think he gives us something defensively. He creates turnovers, he’s a ball pressure guy, he gets into guys, he’s fast, and offensively he can give you a punch.”
New father, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also returns and it couldn’t come at a better time. Injuries to Rodions Kurucs and Treveon Graham have left the team quite bare in terms of guys who can play at the power forward position. Kenny is looking forward to having RHJ back for two things in particular.
“Defense and rebounding. Especially with Treveon out, who covered us a little there. We obviously missed that defensive presence in Indiana. That’s Rondae, a versatile defender who can rebound.”
Both will add some much needed depth to a depleted Nets squad. It’ll be interesting to see if Rondae slots back in to his usual starting spot or comes off the bench.
Jared Dudley has been a point of contention for many Nets fans. The veteran has played some elevated minutes of what would usually be expected of him. He’s currently racking up almost 29 minutes a contest, over double the amount he played last season for the Suns. The return of Hollis-Jefferson should ease the workload of the 33-year old. His veteran presence and leadership does fill a void of sorts, especially with the absence of DeMarre Carroll.
You can’t fault many other areas of Atkinson’s rotation. He’s ridden the hot hand when it comes to LeVert and has gifted much warranted Kurucs minutes as a burst of energy off the bench. As players recover and guys get back to full fitness it’ll be interesting to see how things change. Harris’ minutes will decrease as Crabbe regains fitness and the ongoing backcourt rotation will be fascinating to watch as Napier finds his form.
A Bounce Back Performance From Allen
Jarrett Allen set some very high standards for himself in the first two games of the season.
Last 5 players to register a double-double and 4 blocks in each of the 1st 2 games of a season:
It wasn’t a horrible night for the sophomore center against the Pacers. He put up 8 points, 3 rebounds and a block in a little over 21 minutes of game time. He just couldn’t find a rhythm on either end. The 4 turnovers was probably a key reason for the decrease in his playing time. It’s been a major issue for the team as a whole and one that was exacerbated by the big man.
He faces an interesting combination of big men in Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. All possess different strengths and weaknesses though Allen should look to get his own against any one of the three. Cleveland will be motivated to have a big performance on the back of a poor showing against Atlanta. Allen will be a major factor in deciding whether Brooklyn can get the win or not.
Allen’s frontcourt teammate, Ed Davis, has been awesome so far this season. If Allen continues his lesser form then Atkinson shouldn’t hesitate to hand out more minutes to the rebounding machine.