TORONTO — Facing three games in the next four nights against three elite NBA teams, the Nets decided to rest center Brook Lopez on Tuesday night against the Raptors.
As a result, he will play in a back-to-back set against last season’s finalists: the Warriors on Thursday night at Barclays Center and the champion Cavaliers on Friday night in Cleveland.
Coach Kenny Atkinson made the announcement after practice Monday at Air Canada Centre. Lopez did not make the trip to Toronto one day after coming close to a triple-double with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, plus four blocked shots, in a 108-107 loss at Philadelphia.
“Brook is going to rest against the Raptors,” Atkinson said. “It’s just ‘performance,’ just information we get. We take everything into account in conjunction with me and Brook and the performance team.”
This will be the third game out of 27 that Lopez has missed as a healthy scratch. The other two were part of back-to-back sets, so this is a departure in the sense that he is missing a single game in order to play a back-to-back.
Lopez’s playing time has been increased recently. He played at least 30 minutes in only one of his first 13 games this season but has topped that mark in eight of his past 11 games.
“Again, it’s just all the information we have and talking to him,” Atkinson said. “We plan it out.”
Atkinson hinted that point guard Jeremy Lin is moving closer to returning to his starting role and normal playing time. The 22 minutes he played Sunday night in Philadelphia were the most he has received in three games since returning from an absence of nearly six weeks to recover from a hamstring injury.
“Let’s wait until [Tuesday] on the Jeremy thing,” Atkinson said. “We’re trending in the right direction [regarding playing time]. He’s feeling a lot better.”
The loss of Lopez against the Raptors means more playing time for big men Luis Scola, Anthony Bennett and Justin Hamilton. The latter has not played at all in the Nets’ past five games. Atkinson is leaning toward starting Scola but had not made a firm decision.
“It’s a good opportunity to develop the roster,” he said.