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Jacque Vaughn: No certainty Jamal Crawford or Donta Hall will play Friday

Neither Jamal Crawford nor Donta Hall played in any of the Nets three scrimmages and Jacque Vaughn told reporters Wednesday they may not play when the Nets re-open their season on Friday vs. the Magic.

“We’ll continue to assess Donta and Jamal and see when they’ll participate in games,” Vaughn said via the Nets daily Zoom call with reporters. “They haven’t done any scrimmages, but we’re very mindful the Orlando game isn’t the be-all game for us. We want to be healthy throughout this and we’ll continue to be vigilant in keeping our guys in a healthy position.”

As Brian Lewis wrote, the Nets coach was being “coy,” not saying they will or won’t play, just that he’s continuing to reassess their situation. The issue is simple, although a bit different for the two players. Crawford, of course, is 40 years old and hasn’t played since April 9, 2019. Hall, who turns 23 next week, was the last player signed and last out of quarantine. The first few days he was with the team, Vaughn said the 6’9” rookie big was working on his conditioning, timing, footwork, etc. Not to mention mastering the Nets playbook.

“I’d say Jamal is definitely ahead just because he’s played over 1,300 games in his career,” Vaughn said. “He’s a guy that understands his body, understands the different flows of the game and how he can impact the game.

“Conversely, with Donta being a younger player, we’ll need a little bit more input on how he can impact the team. Fully confident in Jamal’s ability to impact the game when he does return for us.”

Vaughn speaks to reporters again at noon Thursday.

The Nets will need as many reinforcements as they can in the first two games, Orlando on Friday afternoon, then Washington on Sunday afternoon. The Nets are a half game ahead of the Magic in the seventh seed while the Wizards are six games back. If Washington can get within three and a half games of the Nets and Brooklyn drops into eighth by the end of the seeding games, that will automatically trigger a play-in tournament between the two. The Nets would only have to win one of two games, the Wizards both to advance to the playoffs.

“These first two games are huge,” Joe Harris said. “Obviously, we’re excited to get back playing a normal, regular-season-type game.

“The scrimmages were great to work over a lot of new stuff, bring in some guys that are new to the organization, get familiar with one another. We’re all ready to go, we’re ready to compete, and we realize how important these first two games are.”

Despite the enthusiasm, the Nets are 0-4 vs. Orlando and Washington. Orlando will pose a particular problem. They’re among the healthiest teams in the 22-team “bubble,” with big Jonathan Isaac, thought to out for the season, returning for the re-start.

“Overall with Orlando — team that beat us twice in a year,” said Vaughn. “Very well-coached team. Multiple weapons with [Terrence] Ross and [Evan] Fournier. The ability for [Nikola] Vucevic to control the paint for them. Very defensively sound team. So, will test our ability to shoot the basketball and make plays.”

And if the Nets don’t make the playoffs? They will retain their own first round pick and hope for the best at the August 20 lottery. The Nets already have one pick in the Draft, the 76ers.

Meanwhile, Tyler Johnson is working at both the point and off-guard in practices. After two solid games, Johnson says he feels good despite not having played since the first week in February.

“His play has been pretty good for us,” Vaughn said. “Overall his body feels good, his comfort level on the court at the 1 position [and] at the 2 position — we’ve tried both of those for him — and he has a good feel of how he can help contribute. So looking forward to how he’s going to contribute to the group.”

Johnson suggested in a tweet that he has additional motivation...

NetsDaily will publish restart and game previews as well as other coverage between now and tipoff of the Nets vs. Magic at 2:30 pm on YES.