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Nets come home to face injury-ravaged Hornets

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Time to build. In a clash of the titans, the Brooklyn Nets went into Wednesday night’s battle against the Philadelphia 76ers a bit shorthanded. Philly started to cruise in the fourth quarter, but the Brooklyn bench went on a mad dash to the finish line and almost pulled off a comeback for the ages. They wound up falling a bit short, but there was a lot to take away and if these titans square off with the stakes at their highest, it’ll be a fight for the ages.

The opponent tonight will be the Charlotte Hornets. After a good run, things are starting to trend backwards. They lost on Wednesday night at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The loss was their third in a row. They’re barely hanging on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

Where to follow the game

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

You can join us on NetsDaily Clubhouse post-game. Details here.

Injuries

James Harden is out with a hamstring injury, Chris Chiozza is out due to a fractured hand, Tyler Johnson is out with knee soreness, and Spencer Dinwiddie is out with a knee injury. And of course LaMarcus Aldridge has been forced to retire.

LaMelo Ball is out due to a right wrist fracture, Gordon Hayward is out with a right foot sprain, Malik Monk is out with a right ankle sprain, Devonte Graham is out due to a left quad contusion, Nate Darling is out with a right ankle sprain, Brad Wanamaker is questionable with a right ankle sprain, and PJ Washington is doubtful with a right ankle sprain.

The game

Charlotte took Game 1 in December while Brooklyn took Game 2 earlier this month.

The big news in the league yesterday was the retirement of LaMarcus Aldridge. LMA announced his retirement after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat that he experienced during last Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Aldridge had a great career and we hope he is healthy and safe going forward. Cheers to a great player and a great career.

Stay ready. DeAndre Jordan was out of the rotation, but came back this week and looked pretty solid all things considered. Sure Joel Embiid poured in 39 points, but DJ played tough and pulled down 14 rebounds. The Nets rotation of bigs will be DJ, Nicolas Claxton, and Blake Griffin. Each brings something unique to the table and as Steve Nash sharpens the rotations and gets the guys ready for the playoffs, we’ll see who stands out the most.

Speaking of stay ready, shouts to the Nets bench. They made the team proud by almost pulling off a massive comeback on Wednesday night and as the stars look to regain their rhythm, having guys like Alize Johnson, Bruce Brown, etc on the squad will always give the Nets a sense of toughness and fire that will help to push them across the finish line.

When you need a day, take a day. Kyrie Irving sat out the Timberwolves game and came back Wednesday ready to rock and roll. He put up a dazzling 37 points and did damage against Ben Simmons and Mattisse Thybulle, two of the best defenders in the league. Irving is able to pressure defenders and make life impossible for whoever’s guarding him. He helps the Nets play at a fast pace and allows their offense to stay a tier above the rest of the league.

Terry Rozier, I hope you’re ready to do some heavy lifting. With all of the Hornets best players sidelined, he’s gonna have to carry the offense in a major way tonight. Like everyone else in basketball, he’s taking more three pointers this year and is shooting a snazzy 40.4 percent from deep.

The Hornets get loose with the ball, and considering their depleted roster, that spells danger. Charlotte has the third worst turnover rate in the NBA this season and one big run could knock them out early.

Player to watch: Miles Bridges

Without Hayward and Ball, someone's got to step up and do more. In steps Mr. Bridges. He’s gotten better each year he’s been in the league and is shooting career highs across the board. At only 22 years old, he’s part of an exciting wave of talent in the Queen City that will have them competing for the playoffs for years to come.

Kevin Durant is back tonight and will be looking to keep the good times going. He was magnificent on Tuesday and scored a smooth 31 points in 27 minutes. His minutes per game have increased each night he’s been back and as he keeps knocking the rust off, Brooklyn will become even more formidable. KD didn’t play both ends of the back-to-back this week, and Brooklyn has a New Orleans - Toronto (well, Tampa cause of COVID) b2b next week, so he’ll more than likely sit one of those games out. In the meantime, he’ll keep getting to his spots and doing damage from all over the court.

From the Vault

Let’s take you back to LMA’s best playoff game

More reading: At the Hive