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Preview: Hornets host a key matchup against potential play-in foe Brooklyn Nets

Charlotte will need to put it together on both ends of the court in this one.

Charlotte Hornets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Brooklyn Nets (32-33) at Charlotte Hornets (32-33)

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Tonight’s game could have massive playoff implications between two teams with identical records that are currently slotted to be postseason play-in teams. This is the second meeting between the Hornets and the Nets this year. The first meeting took place back in October and Charlotte won 111-95 to improve to 3-0 to open the season. Miles Bridges was fantastic in that victory with 32 points on 9-of-16 field goals and 11-of-12 at the line.

Tonight the Nets are 2.5-point favorites. The reality is anything can happen in this game with an inconsistent Hornets team facing off against a Nets squad that’s trying to rebuild itself on the fly.

Brooklyn Nets Overview

It’s been a wild year for the Nets, to put it lightly.

Brooklyn entered last season among the short list of title contenders this year with their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Then things went sideways. Durant has only recently returned from a 21-game absence in which the Nets went 5-16. Harden wanted out of Brooklyn and is now donning a Philadelphia 76ers jersey. Irving chose to not get vaccinated and as a result has only played in 16 games this year, all on the road due to New York City’s indoor vaccination requirements. I’m already waiting for the 30 for 30 documentary about the drama and dysfunction of the 2021-22 Brooklyn Nets.

Kevin Durant continues to be one of the most dominant players in the game and comes in averaging his usual 29 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Since this game is being played in Charlotte instead of New York, Kyrie Irving should suit up. In limited action this year he’s averaging around 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game though his 36.4% from the 3-point line is his lowest mark since 2015-16.

Brooklyn’s starting five is rounded out by former 76ers shooting guard Seth Curry who averages over 16 points per game and hits a blistering 44% from the 3-point line. Fourth-year forward Bruce Brown is used mainly for perimeter defense. Veteran center Andre Drummond ended up in Brooklyn in the James Harden trade and has averaged around 10 points and nine rebounds per game as a Net.

The Nets bench consists of four ring-chasing veterans and a promising rookie. NBA fans are familiar with long-term players like point guard Goran Dragic, shooting guard Patty Mills, forward James Johnson, and center LaMarcus Aldridge. The only non-AARP eligible notable bench player is rookie shooting guard Cam Thomas, the No. 27 pick in last year’s draft, who averages about 10 points in 20 minutes per game. Thomas is currently questionable to play tonight.

How the Hornets Can Win

This season’s iteration of the Hornets can be very frustrating. They have all of the tools to be really good on offense and at least capable on defense, but they lack consistency in putting together complete 48-minute games.

This contest could very well be won on the glass. Charlotte and Brooklyn are two of the worst teams in the league in defensive rebounding. The Hornets rank 27th in defensive rebound percentage while the Nets are equally shaky in this department and rank 26th in the league. These are equally poor rebounding teams. If there was ever a night for Charlotte to crash the offensive glass and manufacture some extra possessions, this would be it. The Nets big men are plodding and past their primes. I’d love to see Montrezl Harrell run them ragged in transition while relentlessly pursuing offensive rebounds every time a shot goes up.

Poll

What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Hornets win easy
    (9 votes)
  • 55%
    Hornets win a close one
    (43 votes)
  • 22%
    Nets win a close one
    (17 votes)
  • 10%
    Nets win easy
    (8 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now

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