Before diving into the preview for the Brooklyn Nets at Charlotte Hornets match-up, I think it’s important to acknowledge the news about LaMarcus Aldridge. He retired earlier this week after experiencing irregularities with his heartbeat. When anyone has to give up on their dream or sacrifice their way of life because of a medical situation its heartbreaking. But as someone who loves basketball, writing for an audience of like-minded ballers, it’s even more poignant. LaMarcus was a force on every team on which he played and every opponent had to game plan against him. Ball is life and the court is a sanctuary even for those of us in the cheap seats. So, here’s hoping Mr. Aldridge is healthy and happy no matter where his journey may take him.
Even without the newly retired LaMarcus Aldridge the Brooklyn Nets welcome the Charlotte Hornets to Barclays on Friday being the team to beat in the East. I hear you Bucks fans, but they are no. 1 in the standings and no. 2 in the power rankings. James Harden won’t be playing due to a hamstring. Tyler Johnson and Blake Griffin are out too due to respective injuries. Guess what? The Nets are going to be alright. Kevin Durant is back, getting into the groove after a long stretch with his own hamstring injury but missed their last game, a loss against the 76ers of Philadelphia. Flat Earther extraordinaire and legit agent for social change, Kyrie Irving, is still in the line-up breaking ankles and taking names.
Aldridge played five games with the Nets, his debut in the uniform was against the Hornets on April Fool’s Day where he dominated the paint with 11 points and 8 rebounds, turning Caleb Martin into a turnstile. Even with the injury woes, the Nets are 7-3 in their last ten games. Expect Kyrie to dominate the ball playing the most devastating drive and kick game in the league. While Kevin Durant continues to be the best off-ball scorer in the league (with apologies to Chef Curry).
YOUR Charlotte Hornets are simply out of options. The list of those available to play is only slightly longer than the injury list. The names that will come as no surprise to even the casual fan; LaMelo, Gordon, Malik are all still in different stages of rehabilitation. Joining them on the sideline or in the training room are PJ Washington (ankle), Brad Wannamaker (ankle), Devonte’ Graham (Quad), Nate Darling (embarrassment over Lebron goating him into chucking a brick).
The night is dark and full of terrors and there’s no wildling army coming to fortify the Hornets roster. So, the vanguard is made up of bit players. The projected starting line-up tonight is Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, CALEB MARTIN!, Jalen McDaniels, and Bismack Biyombo. This line-up has played exactly zero minutes together in any stage of the game. The Jon Snow of this belabored analogy has to be Terry Rozier. The Brooklyn Whitewalkers will have their blue eyes trained on him for the entirety of the game, and for the good guys to make it to morning, he will have to score and score and score once more.
The Hornets are 4-6 in their last 10 games which is kind of a miracle in itself. But they’ve dropped their last 3 games in relatively close match-ups against the Hawks, Lakers, and Cavaliers. The bright spot in this sea of injury has been Jalen McDaniels. He is averaging 8.7ppg in the month of April and has been the go-to big in moments of need. Watching his progression and the progression of the deeper bench players will be something to watch for tonight if and when they are forced into the rotation. Miles Bridges has been selling posters out the back of his Lambo after the games so there’s hope of some awesome dunks.
But I can’t lie, sports fans, expect this to get ugly fast. But hold out hope that the “prince that was promised’ pulls out one of his 40-point nights and puts the realm on his back. This is a scheduled loss in the best of times for this team and we are in the long night. A blowout loss doesn’t spell disaster, but winning days have to return soon as the Hornets try to stay in the play-in picture and salve wounds to get some more of these key players back on the court. Those who are dead may never die. That is apropo of nothing, but it’s a cool saying from the show. See you at 7:30, Hornets Fans!