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Injuries forcing Nets into some “funky lineups”

Brooklyn Nets v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

To call the Nets injury-riddled is not quite accurate. Yes, Jeremy Lin is out for the season with a ruptured patellar tendon and over the last week or so, the Nets frontcourt has missed Jarrett Allen (four games); Trevor Booker (three games); Quincy Acy (three games); Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (one game); and DeMarre Carroll (one game).

You can note that the injuries have given Tyler Zeller a chance to show off his skills (and record his best game, at least on offense, in two years vs. the Nuggets). But that’s not much compensation when his frontcourt mates have missed 12 games among them. (The Nets also got some decent offensive minutes from two-way contractor Jacob Wiley who put up four points and eight rebounds vs. Denver.)

When the Nets face the Trail Blazers on Friday, Kenny Atkinson hopes he’ll have close to a full complement of bigs. Hollis-Jefferson (hip contusion) and Booker (sore lower back) may return Friday night against the Trail Blazers. But there are no guarantees, as Greg Logan notes.

Atkinson admitted going with some “funky lineups” and Zeller noted that for a player, it can be confusing.

“You don’t know who you’re playing with or where guys are going to be. Rondae is a much different player than Quincy, so you’ve got to get used to different guys and different lineups. Sometimes, when our guards are driving, they’re looking for Rondae and Quincy is wide open for a three. It’s something we’ve got to get better at.”

Also, players may be on the court, but not fully back. Acy is 1-of-13 from three in his two games back from injury. If he can’t hit from deep, his value is lessened.

“It’s a challenge for continuity, which is the big thing, especially with a new team, just getting your rhythm,” Atkinson said. “It’s continuity in the lineups where you want the same guys playing together. We’re mixing and matching right now.”

One beneficiary of the injuries is Isaiah Whitehead who’s been yo-yoing between Brooklyn and Long Island. He finally got some minutes vs. Denver after flying in from New York. As Atkinson said, in what could be called damning by faint praise,

“Isaiah was good. He was our best point guard,” Atkinson said. “He competed, he made some good plays. It’s good to see a young guy like him .”

The Brooklyn native who filled in heroically last season early and started 26 games because of injuries, says he’s grateful for any minutes he gets with the big club.

“It was great,” he told Brian Lewis. “Every chance I get to play on this level I’m grateful for. It was great to be out there for the first time basically in meaningful [time], getting minutes. I think I did a pretty good job, so I have to keep moving forward.”