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Nets' depth keeps opponents, Kenny Atkinson on their toes

Head coach Kenny Atkinson of the Nets reacts

Head coach Kenny Atkinson of the Nets reacts during the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 in New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Compared to most playoff contenders, the Nets are low-wattage when it comes to star power once you get past  All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell. Their greatest strength for the playoff push is their depth, but the number of capable players on the roster poses a problem for Kenny Atkinson, who chose to sit out forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jared Dudley on Saturday in Charlotte.

“You want to keep this group happy because we have such good chemistry,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure it out game to game, matchup to matchup, possession to possession. I think we’ve got to use the whole roster.”

Hollis-Jefferson and Dudley again did not play against the Spurs on Monday night at Barclays Center, but Atkinson said the matchups the Nets faced easily could have caused him to switch and insert them ahead of other players.

He credited the Nets’ players for an unselfish, understanding attitude but said that goes only so far because they’re all competitors who believe they should be playing.

“Our guys want to be out there in the best spirit, but they’ve been great accepting that,'' Atkinson said. "Jared Dudley said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want, Coach.’ I talked to Rondae a couple of days ago: ‘Whatever you need, Coach.’ That’s the type of group we have. It’s huge . . . I think I try to keep those guys involved. I’m talking to them, love them. It’s important that they know they’re a big part of the team.”

Dinwiddie stays fit

Atkinson said Spencer Dinwiddie (right thumb surgery), the Nets’ second-leading scorer, is anxious to get back and is staying in shape. “He hasn’t been sitting in front of his TV or just in the training room doing nothing,” he said. “I think he wants this over. He’s been on an ultra-conditioning program led by our performance team, so I know he’s anxious to get back. He looks great.”

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