Yikes. After playing the Warriors tough for a half before eventually losing, the Brooklyn Nets went to Cleveland looking to put a complete game effort up against the defending NBA Champion Cavaliers. That didn’t happen as the Cavs cruised to an easy 20 point victory on Friday night. The losing streak is at five.
Making the trip into Brooklyn this Boxing Day evening will be the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte has had a solid season and are the favorites to win the Southeast Division. It would be their first division Championship in franchise history if they pull it off. They last played on Friday when they beat the Chicago Bulls at home. Charlotte has won their last three games and five out of their last six.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 on radio. Tip off after 7:30.
Trevor Booker was given last game off to rest, but he’ll be back out there. Isaiah Whitehead has been out of action the past few games with a foot injury he’s “probable.” So it’s possible Monday could be the first game this season where all 15 players are healthy.
Marco Belinelli left Friday’s game with a left ankle injury and his status for tonight is unknown.
Charlotte won the first meeting back in early November.
Jeremy Lin missed the first meeting with Charlotte due to his hamstring injury. He’s been back the past two weeks and has played well for the most part, but has committed ten turnovers in his last two games. For a Nets team that has to play almost perfectly in order to win, they can’t afford any sloppiness or unforced errors. Lin will be matched up with his former teammate Kemba Walker We keep waiting for Walker’s shooting to fall off, but it hasn’t happened yet. In December, although he’s only shooting 42.7 percent overall from the field, he’s made 38.5 percent of his three point attempts. His improved three point shooting along with his ability to break defenders down off the dribble and drive to the basket make him an incredibly hard player to guard.
Although he played both ends of the back-to-back, Brook Lopez should be well rested for this one. Lopez only played 22 minutes on Friday and with the two days off in between games, he’ll have a lot of energy for this one. The Hornets will throw the trio of Spencer Hawes, Frank Kaminsky, and Roy Hibbert at Lopez inside. Lopez can draw them away from the rim with his three point shooting, and that should help free things up for his teammates on offense as well as the glass.
Player to watch: Michael Kidd Gilchrist
In his five seasons in the NBA, MKG has established himself as one of the best defenders in the league. When he’s in the game, the Hornets only allow 99.9 points per 100 possessions. He’s a rangy defender that makes life hell on perimeter players. They’re only shooting 43.3 percent against him when he is the primary defender. He’s also a good rebounding forward that can initiate fastbreaks. His game is similar to a player Nets fans know well, Gerald Wallace. Over at Hornets blog At the Hive, Nickalus Denning took a look at that and what it means for Charlotte:
What we do know about him is that he gives the Hornets a dynamic that can’t be replicated by any other player on the roster. He’s athletic, full of energy, and plays with high intensity and a mindset that refuses to accept losing as an option. It’s the type of attitude that makes him easy to root for.
But Kidd-Gilchrist’s style of play has also cost him. Not since Gerald Wallace have we seen a player play as hard as MKG, and like it did with Crash, it has cost him time on the court. He suffered a concussion his rookie season, then broke his hand the following one. In 2014-15, a foot injury kept him out for periods of time, and then last season’s shoulder injury cost him nearly all of it. None of these injuries are re-occurring, but in a sense they work the same way. Like those who constantly battle with bad hamstrings or knees, the feeling is that MKG’s next injury isn’t an if, but a when.
He’s only missed one game this season and is third on the team in minutes. He still isn’t a good shooter, but the Hornets have enough weapons on offense to overcome it.
MKG figures to be matched up with Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic did a whole lot of nothing against Cleveland on Friday, going scoreless in 19 minutes. Bojan didn’t do much better the first time he saw the Hornets as he went 4-17 from the field. The Nets need much more from him going forward if they want to avoid finishing last in the Eastern Conference for the first time since the infamous 2009-2010 season.
From the Vault
I would hear this song every time I turned on 106.7 LITE FM. Rest in peace to George Michael.
More reading: At the Hive