The Brooklyn Nets have lost 6 of their last 8 and visit the Charlotte Hornets Saturday night in an important game in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Coming off a poor shooting performance in their return from the All-Star break, the Brooklyn Nets head to Spectrum Center Saturday night to face the Charlotte Hornets in a key battle for Eastern Conference playoff positioning.
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The Nets (30-30) are still holding onto sixth place in the East, but the seventh-place Hornets (28-30) climbed to within a game of Brooklyn with their 123-110 win over the Washington Wizards Friday night to open a four-game homestand.
Brooklyn has lost six of its last eight and is just 4-7 since sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie was sidelined by surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.
Over that stretch, the Nets have gotten back Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert and Jared Dudley from lengthy injury absences, which has thrown the rotation into a state of flux as coach Kenny Atkinson re-integrates pieces that were missing for long stretches of games.
Brooklyn struggled to shoot the ball effectively in their 113-99 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Thursday night, hitting only 39.1 percent overall and going 7-for-36 from 3-point range. That 19.4 percent deep shooting mark was their fourth-worst of the season.
That factoid becomes magnified when one considers that the last time the Nets visited Charlotte, they had their second-worst percentage of the year from long range, going 4-for-27 (14.8 percent) in a 100-87 loss to the Hornets.
Not surprisingly, Brooklyn is 0-4 when shooting less than 20 percent from 3-point range this season and 0-9 when they hit less than 40 percent overall. The Nets shot 39.8 percent in their Dec. 28 loss at Charlotte.
It is, as Pat Riley stressed long ago, a make-or-miss league.
Hornets coach James Borrego shuffled his starting lineup in Friday’s win over the Wizards, the first time all season he’s done so without having his hand forced by injury.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson benched Rodions Kurucs on Thursday after the rookie had started 29 straight games when healthy and available. Kurucs had sat out the game before the break against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a left elbow injury.
Both teams have gotten healthy, with only Dinwiddie out for the Nets on Saturday night, while the Hornets’ injury report heading into Friday night was a clean sheet.
Here are three things to watch as Brooklyn and Charlotte elbow for playoff positioning at Spectrum Center.