The Brooklyn Nets host the Charlotte Hornets Friday night at Barclays Center in a game not lacking for subplots as the NBA season enters March.
The Brooklyn Nets close out a three-game homestand Friday night when they welcome the Charlotte Hornets to Barclays Center, holding an opportunity to take the season series and the important head-to-head tiebreaker over Charlotte in the process.
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The game does not lack for subplots, to be sure.
For starters, sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie will be in uniform and available Friday night for the Nets (32-31) after missing 14 games following surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.
Dinwiddie practiced Thursday with the NBA G League’s Long Island Nets and was declared ready to go shortly thereafter.
For the Nets, it will be the first time in 144 games — opening night of the 2017-18 season on Oct. 18, 2017 — that every player on the roster has been healthy and available.
In that Oct. 18, 2017, game, point guard Jeremy Lin tore the patellar tendon in his knee and missed the rest of the season. This season, the Nets have had at least one player on the mend from some sort of ailment since the season began on Oct. 17.
Meanwhile, for the first time since my personal timeline for looking at the standings seriously — Dec. 1 — the Hornets (28-33) are outside the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn remains in sixth place, 1½ games up on the seventh-place Detroit Pistons (29-31), who don’t play again until visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.
Moving into the eighth spot Thursday night were the Orlando Magic (29-34), who beat the Golden State Warriors at home 103-96. That puts Orlando percentage points ahead of Charlotte (28-33), who lost at home Wednesday to the Houston Rockets.
The Magic are idle until Saturday when they visit the Indiana Pacers. Both the Magic and Hornets are three games in back of Brooklyn.
In 10th place, a game behind Orlando and Charlotte, are the Miami Heat (27-34), who couldn’t hold a 21-point lead and lost a road game Thursday to the Houston Rockets, 121-118. Miami will be back home Saturday night to host Brooklyn.
The Washington Wizards (25-36) are three games behind the Magic and Hornets after beating the Nets on Wednesday night. Washington visits the reeling Boston Celtics — owners of the NBA’s longest active losing streak at four straight games — on Friday.
The Hornets come into Friday having lost three straight games — a stretch that began with Brooklyn’s late comeback win Saturday night in Charlotte — and have lost five of their last six and are 2-7 over their last nine games.
The Nets have taken two of the first three meetings from the Hornets this season, a 134-132 double-overtime thriller in Brooklyn on Dec. 26 and Saturday’s 117-115 victory in Charlotte. The Hornets lone victory came at home on Dec. 28 in a 100-87 decision.
Here are three things to watch as the Nets try to secure the tiebreaker over the Hornets Friday night.