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Welcome home: Nets take on Hornets at Barclays to open up home schedule

Indiana Pacers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Put one on the board. It took a minute, but the Brooklyn Nets got their first win of the 2021-2022 season on Friday night in Philadelphia. Brooklyn got it done thanks to a 16-1 run to close it out and give themselves a much needed victory. For now, they can get comfy at home as they’ll be in town for the next few weeks.

Bringing in the new year at Barclays Center with the Nets will be the Charlotte Hornets. James Borrego’s guys fell a bit short of making the playoffs last season, but they’re hoping to take another step forward this season. They’ve gotten off to a good start and are 2-0 after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. We’re on Clubhouse post game. Tip is after 4 PM.

Injuries

No Kyrie Irving of course. Everyone else is ready to roll.

Terry Rozier is questionable with a right ankle sprain.

The game

The further away you get from a catastrophic injury, the more you get back to the way you used to play. It’s been four years since Gordon Hayward suffered his leg injury, but thankfully he’s all the way back and is looking like a borderline All Star player again. As the vet on a super young squad, he’ll be someone that can be counted on to provide some consistency and deep playoff experience. Over at At the Hive, Chase Whitney spoke about what a good season would look like for him and why he’s a perfect fit for this team:

To me, 60-65 games played with box score and efficiency numbers similar to last season is a fair ask from Hayward. Anything less than that would imply a serious injury as opposed to load management, and when healthy we’ve seen how well his style of play meshes with Ball, Rozier and all of the young Hornets. An elite mid-range shot-creator with size, strength and veteran craft, Hayward is the release valve for Charlotte’s halfcourt offense and remains the best isolation scorer on the roster.

The Hornets are not in a position where they’ll “go as far as Hayward can take them,” which is actually why acquiring him was a smart move on the part of the front office; they correctly predicted Ball would become a potential franchise-changer, and instead of a small-market team hoarding massive amount of dollars in the name of “cap space,” they invested in a borderline-All-Star that can be a No. 1 option when they need him to be, and then slowly transition into a second or third-option as he ages and the young core develops.

Hayward and friends get to deal with Kevin Durant this afternoon. KD had his

It feels like ten lifetimes ago, but Mason Plumlee was a pretty decent Brooklyn Net when he broke into the NBA. Of course, with any mention of Plumlee, let’s take an early trip to the Vault and relive his greatest Net moment...

What a time. What a time.

If there’s a battle to win the starting center job, then LaMarcus Aldridge is in the early lead. LMA was the five coming down the stretch and hit what turned out to be the game winning basket on Friday. The big fella allows for the Nets to be more spaced out on offense as compared to Nicolas Claxton, who hasn’t put it together yet following a great preseason finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you’re like me and love midrange jumpers, then you’ll appreciate Aldridge even more.

Charlotte likes to go small with PJ Washington at center, so it’ll be interesting to see how Steve Nash and the Nets counter it. They’ve gone with big lineups for most of the first two games, so today will be a good opportunity to go small and get those lineups some run. Maybe that means we’ll see Bruce Brown in some actual minutes of consequence this time.

Curiously, the Hornets did not sign Miles Bridges to a rookie extension before the deadline. As a result, he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. We’ll see if it comes back to bite them in the butt.

Barclays Center, or the ‘Clays if you will, will be looking a bit different so we’ll keep an eye on that.

There’s plenty to celebrate as it’s the home opener. Also, look for the fans to give Kevin Durant and James Harden some extra love as they were named to the NBA 75 Greatest Players of all time list. It’s such an amazing honor when you consider how many wonderful players have dominated the league throughout time.

Player to watch: Lamelo Ball

Say hello to the coolest cat in basketball.

How can you not love this dude?

After a banner rookie season that was ruined by a broken wrist, Ball is back and ready to push his team to its first real playoff appearance since the 2015-2016 season. Ball has the Hornets playing at a breakneck pace and his ability to create for his teammates has Charlotte in a great position to sneak into the top six if all goes well. If he can build on his 35.2 percent from three point range (37.5 percent before his wrist injury), it’ll help his game grow even more. As it stands, the kid is a star and someone worth seeing in person or tuning into on TV. Enjoy it.

Not to be outdone, James Harden will be running the show for the Nets. The shot hasn’t been there yet, but that’ll get there in time. He and Claxton are working to get their timing and rhythm down pat, and as Claxton improves his conditioning, so once he gets it together, Harden will have a suitable lob partner. Harden has been working to set everyone else up, and as one of the best floor generals in basketball, he’ll always be someone you can count on to make the right pass to put his guys in great scoring position.

From the Vault

At halftime, Busta Rhymes will be the halftime entertainment for the folks in the house at Barclays. With that in mind, let’s take a quick trip through his illustrious career.

More reading: At the Hive