The Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets face off for the third and final time this season at Barclays Center on Friday night. Both teams have won one game apiece in the two matchups thus far. The Nets enter this tie in better form, though.
The Charlotte Hornets have lost three games in a row and slipped down to the eighth seed in the East. They've had to deal with injuries to multiple starters and key role players. The situation has helped sophomore Jalen McDaniels flourish. Despite having a bad outing against the Cleveland Cavaliers, McDaniels has averaged 14.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists through the last five games.
Kevin Durant's return was the biggest positive for the Brooklyn Nets last week. The Nets have lost two of their last three games, both against championship rivals LA Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. Steve Nash's unit has lacked continuity with the likes of Kyrie Irving and Durant both slotting in and out of the lineup regularly.
Charlotte Hornets vs Brooklyn Nets: Injury Report
The Charlotte Hornets have played without multiple starters in the last two games. Terry Rozier returned against the Cleveland Cavaliers and he's fit to play on Friday as well. Power forward PJ Washington remains doubtful with an ankle sprain.
The Charlotte Hornets will be hoping for some positive news with LaMelo Ball (right wrist fracture) set to be re-evaluated early next week. Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward (right foot sprain) is likely to sit out for the rest of April.
Devonte Graham' suffered a quad contusion against the Cavs and has been sidelined. Meanwhile, backup point guard Malik Monk is set to miss an eighth straight game with a right ankle sprain.
Kevin Durant sat out in the previous game against the Philadelphia 76ers but he did not feature on Friday's injury report. James Harden continues to remain sidelined with a hamstring injury he suffered against the New York Knicks in the first week of April. He's expected to return by the end of next week, though.
LaMarcus Aldridge shocked the world by announcing his retirement last night due to a heart issue and the Brooklyn Nets have already placed him on the waiver wire. Other absences for the Nets include Chris Chiozza (fractured right hand), Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness) and Spencer Dinwiddie (partially torn ACL).
Charlotte Hornets vs Brooklyn Nets: Predicted Lineups
The Charlotte Hornets are likely to have a very shortened rotation due to their long list of injuries. Terry Rozier is set to assume the role of lead ball-handler but Caleb Martin might end up getting a rare start.
Jalen McDaniels has been in impeccable form since replacing Gordon Hayward in the lineup and will retain his place as the starting small forward. Miles Bridges will slot alongside him at power forward, while Bismack Biyombo will sort out the starting lineup. Fringe players such as Nick Richards and Vernon Carey Jr. may get some playing time off the bench.
Kyrie Irving will be tasked with the job of moving the ball up the court with James Harden still sitting out. Landry Shamet is expected to join him as the starting shooting guard yet again.
Jeff Green will move back to the bench following Kevin Durant's return, but he may feature in the closeout lineup for the Brooklyn Nets. Meanwhile, sharpshooter Joe Harris will be a key scorer for Steve Nash again.
LaMarcus Aldridge's retirement will result in an increase in playing time for DeAndre Jordan. Nicolas Claxton is still expected to start as the center, though. Meanwhile, both Bruce Brown and Blake Griffin will act as impact players off the bench.
Charlotte Hornets vs Brooklyn Nets: Predicted Starting 5s
Point Guard - Terry Rozier | Shooting Guard - Caleb Martin | Small Forward - Jalen McDaniels | Power Forward - Miles Bridges | Center - Bismack Biyombo
Point Guard - Kyrie Irving | Shooting Guard - Landry Shamet | Small Forward - Joe Harris | Power Forward - Kevin Durant | Center - Nicolas Claxton