Nets basketball is back with Hornets as first victim

Photo courtesy YES Network

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Barclays Center

Watch: YES Network/FOX Sports GO

Listen: 101.9 FM, 660 AM

Photo courtesy YES Network

Now that the All-Star Break is done, the Nets are back to reality. Brooklyn is on a seven-game skid with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert still stuck on the sidelines with injuries. 

With everyone else available and rested, Brooklyn cannot sleep on any opponent, and the Hornets are a team that is beatable. Kemba Walker is having an All-Star year for them, and even though Dwight Howard is a shell of his former self, he can still prove to be a handful for opposing frontcourts. Brooklyn has to get physical with Charlotte, and do not be surprised if Timofey Mozgov sees some minutes. Kenny Atkinson has made it known that he is going to make some rotation changes, and Dwight Howard is simply too big for Jarrett Allen to try and contain.

Three things to watch for

D’Angelo Russell back in the starting lineup?

Allen Crabbe caught fire at a very inopportune time before the All-Star Break. The Nets have slowly been trying to get D’Angelo Russell back into the swing of things and eventually get him back in the starting lineup. With a few games under his belt and some rest time in, it is hard to think of a better time than now to make the move. It is hard to take Crabbe out of the starting lineup at the moment, but his play might be more suited for a spark plug off the bench.

Dante Cunningham breakout game?

That title can be a little misleading. Brooklyn should not expect a scoring explosion from the recently acquired Dante Cunningham, but he can have a statement game in terms of the defensive side of the ball and hustling for rebounds. I look at the addition of Cunningham as a temporary replacement of Trevor Booker. I think back to a game earlier in the season against the Dallas Mavericks, where Booker grabbed three crucial offensive rebounds to steal a win in Dallas. If Cunningham can make that kind of impact, he will earn minutes in the rotation.

Allen Crabbe

I touched on it a little earlier, but Crabbe has been sensational as of late. The looks he was missing earlier in the year are going down, and everything looks to be trending upward. But a break is not always what a player wants when he is on a hot streak. We will see tonight if he can still maintain that magic for an extended period of time.