When: 7:00pm EDT
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Outfitting: Hornets—Statement (purple with purple court); Nets—Classic (white)
People forget that the Nets actually play basketball. They’ve been talked about more than any other team in the league save for maybe the Los Angeles Lakers, and almost none of it has been about their actual play on the court.
The two biggest lightning rods for the media won’t take part in tonight’s game. Kyrie Irving is out while he serves a team-imposed suspension for seemingly supporting an antisemitic “documentary” and then refusing to denounce antisemitism or apologize despite pleas from literally everyone to do so. He’s just a free thinker that’s asking questions, guys.
Ben Simmons is out with knee soreness, and there’s no timetable for if or when he’ll ever play again. Prior to his absence, Simmons had been a hot target for memes pointing out that he has committed more fouls (26) and turnovers (16) than he has made field goals (15) for the entire season.
The Nets also fired head coach Steve Nash in what was announced as a mutual decision. The Nets have badly underperformed with Nash as coach, but it’s hard to envision any coach having any success relative to expectations given the environment in Brooklyn. Jacque Vaughn is currently filling in while the Nets try to hire suspended head coach Ime Udoka away from the Boston Celtics.
Now to the basketball.
The Nets still have Kevin Durant, and any team with Kevin Durant can win on any given night. They struggled through the first six quarters of the Jacque Vaughn era, but they went nuts in the second half of their game against the Washington Wizards on Friday night. They led the Wizards by one point with 1:42 left in the second quarter. They went on to win by 42 points as they outscored the Wizards 70-29 over the final 25 minutes and 42 seconds of the game.
Durant is option one, two, and three on offense for the Nets. He averages 20.2 field goal attempts per game, and no other non-suspended Net takes double digit attempts. Royce O’Neal averages the next most shot attempts per game, which is not what you want to see if you have any expectations of having a good offense.
There are sitll other weapons to watch out for. Seth Curry always seems to enjoy playing his hometown team, and he’s back in the lineup. Nic Claxton is an active big that will strain the Hornets rebounding and interior defense. Joe Harris has given the Hornets problems in the past, so there’s reason to be wary about him, but he hasn’t quite found his footing yet this season. Yuta Watanabe and Edmond Sumner have been getting big minutes as well.
The Hornets have finally met a team that is as short staffed as they are. The injury report looks the same for the home team as it has for the past couple games—LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Cody Martin, and Gordon Hayward are all still on the injury report, though Rozier has been upgraded to questionable, so he should be close to returning.
The Hornets should have easier sledding tonight than they did against the Grizzlies. They need to force misses out of the Nets and get out and run so they don’t have to strain their nonexistent half court shot creation ability. If they can do that and regain their form shooting threes, they have a chance to win tonight.