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Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson likely back, but maybe not as starters

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) and Allen Crabbe (back) are probable for Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. That’s a relief. Fans have to be relieved after watching RHJ writhe in pain vs. the Grizzlies and wondering what happened with Crabbe after his late scratch that same game.

If they play Sunday, Hollis-Jefferson will have missed only two full games with a right ankle sprain, Crabbe the last three, nursing a sore back.

As he often says whenever a player goes down, Kenny Atkinson reiterated his belief that the Nets are better equipped to handle injuries, the nagging day-to-day injuries that have beset those two as well as Trevor Booker, Jarrett Allen and, yes, others. Not to mention the blows to the team’s two best players, Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell. The Nets, the coach thinks, have weathered the storm, if nothing else.

We know the Nets will not rush anyone back, and Atkinson said Friday that neither may start right away, citing his and the organization’s preference to bring players back gradually.

“I think for Allen and Rondae, they’re not going to just jump in and play 40 minutes,” said Atkinson. “They’re going to have to build up, and that’s not a punishment. That’s just health-wise. There is going to be build up there. I’m not saying it’s five minutes — they’ll get decent minutes. We’re still going to have to manage the minutes and make sure those guys have a proper build up when they’re coming back from their injuries.”

Both practiced on Friday, so their returns seem imminent. Atkinson says that both looked good in practice, but they’ll decide Saturday morning whether or not they’ll play against the Hawks, who have their own set of injuries.

“Let’s see how they are tomorrow morning,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re going to be ready – obviously the minutes you play, that determines whether you start or are coming off the bench. You want to make sure they’re not sitting on the bench for long periods of time. Whether they start or come off the bench is important.”