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Nets begin second half of season in Charlotte

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NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back! The Brooklyn Nets are back in action after a week, and they needed the time off in the worst way. They went into the break on a seven game losing streak following their loss to the Indiana Pacers last Wednesday.

The first opponent of the second half will be the Charlotte Hornets. It’s been a disappointing year for the Hornets and they’re a long shot to make the playoffs. They did win their last game before the break against the Orlando Magic so they have that going for them.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30 PM.

Injuries

Caris Levert, Rondae Hollis Jefferson, and Jahlil Okafor all missed the last Nets game due to injury. RHJ and Levert are out while Okafor’s status is currently unknown. Isaiah Whitehead is with the big club and the Nets two-ways, Milton Doyle and James Webb III, played big minutes last night in Long Island.

Malik Monk was involved in a car accident on Sunday, but is ok. No word on his status for tonight.

The game

Charlotte’s front office will look different heading into next year. It’s been reported that the team will not bring current general manager Rich Cho back next season. The team is at a bit of a crossroads and will need to figure out which direction to take if they want to be a consistent contender.

Charlotte’s offense has been in the middle of the pack for much of the season, and Jon DeLong of At the Hive has an idea as to why:

Much like their defense, the Hornets offense appears to be stuck in the 1990s. Charlotte is one of the few teams relying on frequent post ups despite the rest of the league shifting to a more uptempo, perimeter oriented game, and it’s dragging the offense down. They need to utilize transition more, even if it comes at the expense of their historic defensive rebounding numbers. The shooting has been woeful, but if the Hornets start going to where their bread is buttered more often, we may start to see those field goal percentages rise.

We haven’t heard much from Dwight Howard, and that’s a good thing. Howard has been a pariah around the league for the past couple of years, and a quiet, productive season in Charlotte will do wonders for him. He’ll be working to keep Jarrett Allen off the boards. Charlotte is the fifth best rebounding team in the NBA this year, and they can control the tempo of the game by controlling the glass.

Allen Crabbe’s resurgence could make Brooklyn’s second half a successful one. He’s averaged 21.4 points a game on 48 percent shooting from the field and 42.6 percent from deep over the past five games, 25.3 over the last four, the most productive stretch of his career, if you don’t count the losses. With Levert out again, Crabbe will play big minutes again this evening. He’s averaged 35 over the past five. Michael Kidd Gilchrist will get the assignment to chase Crabbe off the 3-point line. MKG has been a solid contributor throughout his time in Charlotte and is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league.

Player to watch: Kemba Walker

For a while, it appeared as if the team would trade Walker. They were in dire straits and as the team’s best player, the Hornets could’ve gotten a lot for him at the deadline. However, Walker proved to be too valuable to the team and no deal was made. It’s a good thing they didn’t trade him because Kemba is the most enjoyable aspect of their team. He’s been an All Star the past two years and will be the person responsible for trying to sneak the Hornets into the eighth seed for the playoffs.

Spencer Dinwiddie had himself a nice All Star Weekend. He won the skills competition in front of his peoples in Los Angeles and got some well deserved national recognition. Dinwiddie’s ability to limit his turnovers has been crucial to his success this year and will come in handy as the Nets try to snap out of their funk.

From the Vault

A double play today. First up, it was Nina Simone’s birthday yesterday, so let’s revisit one of her best songs.

And since this is the first game back from the All Star Break, I wanna revisit one of my favorite post ASG performances. Shout out to Stephon Marbury

More reading: At the Hive