With the NBA returning to action Thursday night in the Orlando bubble inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, the Brooklyn Nets will try to secure their spot in the playoffs.
The lone representative from New York in the league’s restart, the Nets have a half-game lead for seventh place in the East over the Orlando Magic — their opponents on Friday afternoon when the final eight regular-season games resume — who hold the last postseason spot in the conference.
Six games behind them are the Washington Wizards, who are the only team that could knock the Nets out of the playoffs.
Securing a postseason place won’t be an easy task for the Nets, who are significantly depleted down in Orlando.
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, continue to recover from their respective injuries while Spencer Dinwiddie opted to sit out the rest of the season after testing positive for coronavirus.
Down their three-top players, the Nets will also be without Nic Claxton, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince, forcing them to pull off some roster gymnastics leading up to the restart.
Amongst their notable signings to fill the roster voids was veteran guard Jamal Crawford, who has not played since last season.
The 40-year-old has been adamant that he can still produce at a high rate in the league, which was alluded to when he dropped 51 points in his final game last season as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
However, head coach Jacque Vaughn still won’t commit to playing Crawford and new signing Donta Hall in their opener on Friday against Orlando after he didn’t appear in any of the Nets’ three scrimmages.
“We’ll continue to assess Donta and Jamal and see when they’ll participate in games,” Vaughn, citing acclimation periods for both players, told reporters over Zoom (h/t New York Post). “They haven’t done any scrimmages, but we’re very mindful the Orlando game isn’t the be-all game for us. We want to be healthy throughout this and we’ll continue to be vigilant in keeping our guys in a healthy position.”
But he also understood that Crawford’s vast experience over 19 years means he’ll get back to speed quicker than the 22-year-old Hall.
“I’d say Jamal is definitely ahead just because he’s played over 1,300 games in his career,” Vaughn said. “He’s a guy that understands his body, understands the different flows of the game, and how he can impact the game.”