Lin looks to upset former team as Nets chase redemption against Charlotte
After a soul crushing week that saw Brooklyn get blown out by their rival Toronto Raptors followed by back-to-back beatdowns by the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Nets get a visit from the current no. four seed in the Eastern Conference. The Charlotte Hornets, who bested Brooklyn earlier this year 99-95, are 17-13 and are on a three-game win streak.
Of course, the Nets are looking for moral victories at this point and avenging their previous heartbreaker against a team currently in the top half of the Eastern Conference would be a great start. The Nets have plunged to the bottom of the the standings with the same 7-22 record as the Philadelphia 76ers, who beat them early last week. One of the storylines of the game will be Jeremy Lin’s face off against his former team, having missed out on the first showdown during his month off thanks to the hamstring strain.
For the Hornets, it’s head coach Steve Clifford’s discipline and a team-friendly culture in Charlotte that revived Lin’s career in 2015-2016, making him someone the Nets trusted handing out a three-year deal to. Lin’s been great in Brooklyn thus far in an increased role, but injuries and a lack of talent around him have stifled his ceiling.
As Kemba Walker (The Bronx) and Steve Clifford (Knicks’ assistant) return for their own homecomings, the Nets look to save the quickly sinking ship and make something of this season. Here are 3 things to watch for during tonight’s clash:
1. Who is part of the future?
With Brooklyn rapidly falling out of playoff contention, it’s likely this team will look different in the coming months. General manager Sean Marks has proven to be aggressive in looking to land young talent and it’s possible that he may see guys like Bojan Bogdanovic or Trevor Booker as means to acquire guys on rookie-scale contracts that can grow under head coach Kenny Atkinson. Alongside projects like Anthony Bennett or veterans like Luis Scola and Randy Foye, it’s time to start evaluating for the future.
2. Can Brooklyn contain Kemba?
Kemba Walker’s ascent to an All-Star level has kept Charlotte afloat despite the key losses in Lin and Courtney Lee. While Charlotte has seen improvements from guys like Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky, Walker has been the key behind the Hornets’ continued rise in the conference. Once buried behind Walker on the depth chart, Lin will go toe-to-toe with the point guard that scored 30 points in the first meeting between these two teams.
3. Brook Lopez continuing to shine despite dull outlook
No matter what happens in the rumor mills this winter, Lopez has been up to his usual self-dominating in the low post. Performances like his 28-point scoring output against Golden State this past Thursday haven’t been uncommon this season despite the lack of team success. Whether he is Brooklyn-bound beyond this season or a piece of a playoff contender come February, Lopez will be a consistent offensive force forever whoever employs him.
Tonight against Zeller, Kaminsky, and company, Lopez should continue to play well for the Nets once again.