The Nets have much to be thankful for.
Playing well despite the absence of their top stars.
A well-earned day off on the holidays.
And not having to stew for too long before getting a shot at payback.
Much to be thankful for.
After Wednesday’s loss in Boston — where they were showered with invectives and incessant chants of “Kyrie sucks!” from a venomous TD Garden crowd — the Nets had Thanksgiving off before getting a chance to play host to those same Celtics in a Black Friday matinee at Barclays Center.
“I love these because you can look at the tape. It’s almost like a mini-playoff series,” Kenny Atkinson said. “I wish we had a practice. But you can look at tape, make adjustments, see where you can make some changes. I always like these type of mini-series.”
Last Thanksgiving the Nets were 8-11 and starting what eventually became an eight-game skid. This year’s holiday outlook is brighter.
The Nets (9-9) had a four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday, but are still 5-2 since a shoulder impingement put Kyrie Irving on the sidelines, joining Kevin Durant and Caris LeVert.
Irving, who already had been ruled out last week for the Nets’ entire recent three-game road trip, also will not play on Friday, the team announced Thursday night.
“I think he would [love that],” Jarrett Allen said of a potential Irving return, before the news broke. “I know he’s a competitive guy. I haven’t talked to him personally, but he is a competitive guy. He loves taking the challenge, so I think he would love to be there [Friday].”
Irving wasn’t there in Boston. He was labeled a coward by Celtics fans for staying home to rehab his shoulder rather than come and face their wrath. He watched the venom on TV — pushing back against it with a lengthy Instagram post — and saw his replacement Kemba Walker torch his teammates for a game-high 39 points.
Now, both Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie — who have largely carried the Nets in Irving’s absence — agree with Atkinson in looking forward to a quick opportunity at payback.
“Of course. Any time you lose you want to be able to play the same team and get a win,” said Dinwiddie, whose 23.4 point per game since standing in for Irving is seventh in the East. That’s anything in life. If somebody beats you, you want to beat them back.
“I agree with [Atkinson] for sure when you look at it from that perspective. Now we have to protect home court. Obviously we took their best punch [there], had a hard fought game most of the night.If we protect home court, we’re 1-1 [against Boston].”
Allen agreed the quick turnaround may actually help both teams. But if the Nets have any hope of turning the tables on Boston, slowing Walker is going to be key.
“Definitely it’s going to help us. It’s going to help them,” Allen said. “We both know what each other are going to do. Kemba went off [there]. We’re going to look at the tape, look how to contain himand we’re just going to go at him.”
Having Irving would help, especially considering how badly emergency point guards Theo Pinson and Dzanan Musa struggled playing out of position whenever Dinwiddie sat on Wednesday.
Though some opined that the Nets left Irving home to avoid the bile in Boston — ex-Celtic Kendrick Perkins even accused him of “planning” his injury — Atkinson said the guard’s rehab was better served in Brooklyn.
“Staying at home, staying at HSS [Training Center] is usually a better option,” said Atkinson, noncommittal about Irving’s odds of playing in the rematch. “We’ll see. No update. Not going to give a timetable.
“I think we’re evaluating him every day. It’s ongoing, just day-to-day checking up on him, see where he is.”
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