We’ll keep it short and simple: Jeremy Lin is going to play his first basketball game since November 2. The Brooklyn Nets will play on the road against the Houston Rockets. A special game for Lin for a number of reasons, but he’ll be limited in his minutes, and probably for a while. The Nets have him back, but will take their time until he’s really back, full-time, with no one worrying too much about his hamstring acting up again.
Unlike Lin’s departure from the Knicks in 2012 or the Lakers in 2015, I don’t think there’s bad blood between him and anyone on the Rockets. First there’s Mike D’Antoni, who helped Lin breakthrough in New York almost five years ago. And while James Harden and Patrick Beverley (just by being there, not by actually playing too well) did stand in the way of Lin minutes and possession wise, they weren’t out to ruin his career or anything. Kevin McHale might be someone Lin can be actually angry at, but he’s been gone for over a year, fired at the beginning of last season.
Still, playing in Houston should be special for Lin. But he shouldn’t get too many minutes, even if he wants to spend 40 of them on the floor. He’s hungry for basketball, starving for it. But the Nets were very patient in holding out of action, and they’ll be slow and patient in bringing him back to playing form; playing starter’s minutes. But not right away. To be honest, the best Lin and especially the Nets can hope for is finishing the game without his hamstring giving him any problems. The Nets need to win games, but what’s another loss compared to keeping your best player on the course to full recovery.
As for the game itself, we’re going to see a lot of points. With or without Lin, no one runs a game at a higher pace than the Nets (101.6 per game), helped by the fact that team’s score very quickly against them, giving up 112.1 points per 100 possessions, 28th in the NBA. The Houston Rockets have the 4th best offense in the league, scoring 113.9 points per 100 possessions. The Nets have given up 111 points or more in 13 consecutive games. They might finally have a ball handler and leader coming off the bench, but Rockets players have a great opportunity to put up some big numbers.
And here’s a short reminder of Lin on his last game, a first half against the Detroit Pistons. Lin was great with 10 points and 4 assists in 16 minutes. Let’s hope he gets to that kind of place very soon. The Nets season depends on it.