Jarrett Allen will miss tonight’s game against the Toronto Raptors with a sore left foot. That opens the door for seemingly everyone on the Brooklyn Net roster to eat up minutes for the time-being, but the focus in particular will be inside.
That means Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Acy, and yes, Jahlil Okafor, are expected to be seen more, at least for now. Kenny Atkinson discussed all four in his pre-game media session, which took place about 15 minutes after the Nets announced Allen as a scratch for the Tuesday night affair.
“We could get Rondae some more minutes, we could get Dante some more minutes. We’ll be a bit smaller but we’ll get back some perimeter shooting, we’ll have to play some small-ball line-ups; mix it up,” he said. “We have Jah also, who gives us a big body. We’ll figure it out by committee. Jarrett is a big part of what we do, but it’s a good opportunity for him to get healed a little bit and get ready for our back-to-back hopefully.”
Atkinson adds that the 6’7” Hollis-Jefferson will see some time at center, which he hasn’t done a great deal during his time with the Nets, but it is a look the team has experimented with on occasion over the last two seasons.
“I think we’ll have to do some moving around,” he said. “It’s the old quandary; do you try to match-up size or do you try to get smaller and make it a little unconventional and see if they could match-up. We’ll try both and see which one is working the best. ‘Q’ (Acy) obviously hasn’t been playing a ton of minutes, he will definitely play and get some minutes, that’ll be good.”
Regarding Okafor, who has had two lengthy (and mostly healthy) absences since joining the Nets in early December – nine games from December 17 through January 1 and eight games between February 14 and March 8 before returning on March 11 – Atkinson says he’ll play the former Sixer, but he’s got to earn it.
“These games, a lot of times it ends up with match-ups, but I thought he gave us good minutes the other night,” said Atkinson. “I thought he ran the court well, defended well and that’s going to be the real key, defensive rebounding for him. He’s got to do that for us to get more minutes on the court.
“Like I’ve said over and over,” he continued. “He’s been impeccable with his habits, impeccable with his attitude. It’s hard to come to a team in the middle of the season, and he went through the long, kind of training camp we put him through to try to grasp everything. Still a very intriguing player for us. I hope circumstances work out where he does get minutes because I think he’s been excellent with his attitude and preparation.”