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After the All-Star Break, will it be Big Mo’ or Uh-oh?

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2020 NBA All-Star - Portraits Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Once the Nets return from their All-Star breaks, whether in Chicago for the skills competitions or whatever beach fancies them, their first five games are like to tell them —and us— a lot about this season.

On February 20, they play the 76ers in Philadelphia, then it’s the Hornets in Charlotte, the Magic in Brooklyn, the Wizards in Washington and the Hawks in Atlanta. Four of the five are behind them in the standings.

So will they be able to rely on their growing momentum— three straight wins and six of the last eight— or fall behind and make their playoff run a lot more difficult. The last time they had four or more days off, they returned to lose seven straight.

There are of course variables, like when will Kyrie Irving’s knee be ready for combat and how much will Kenny Atkinson embrace small ball?

“I think we’ll wait until we come back to make that decision. There’s a lot of days and I don’t want to go out and say something that I would regret later,” coach Atkinson said of Irving’s recovery. “There’s obviously a lot of days in between, and we’ll see. When we get back, those first couple practices will determine where he is.”

“He’s itching for sure, man. But we need him healthy, ultimately,” DeAndre Jordan said. “We can’t have him come out and be 75 percent, 80 percent for us, because we’re looking at things down the line, too. We can’t sacrifice him coming out too early and, universe forbid, something happens. We want him to be ready to go whenever he comes back.”

Then, there’s the issue of whether the Nets can mesh their three backcourt aces. As Greg Logan tweeted early Thursday, injuries have robbed the Nets of a lot of chemistry so it’s hard to tell what will happen.

The Nets are also painfully aware of their holiday swoon, the too-much-egg-nog tour that turned them from a winning team to a struggling one almost overnight. They lost seven straight and 12 of 14, going from 16-13 to 18-25.

“[Coach Kenny Atkinson] is wary of another break because of how we came out of Christmas, which was terrible,” said Spencer Dinwiddie, who said they learned some vital lessons from that nosedive. “We hope not to do that again, learn from our mistakes.

“Don’t drink too much eggnog. If you’re on All-Star break and you’re in Chicago, don’t party too crazy, Joe Harris.”

Aktinson remains optimistic that once everyone is healthy, talent will overcome doubt.

“I’m starting to discover this team,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I know it’s the All-Star break, and you say, ‘Well, coach, you should know your team.’ It’s not that easy. The new guys, like DeAndre [Jordan], I’m starting to get to know these guys a lot better. That’s why I think the longer we’re together, the better we’re going to get. The more continuity we have, the better we’re going to get. The talent is there.”

The Nets appear set with their roster of 17 players after doing nothing at the deadline. They could add a buyout but would have to create a roster spot to do it. And the likelihood of a Kevin Durant return this season is fading, if it were ever a reality.

In other words, this is it.