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Starting Five: The return of D-Will

11/20/2013

Kevin Garnett was feeling better about the Nets after Monday's players meeting and Tuesday's lengthy practice.

He hopes the Nets will be looking a lot better tonight with Deron Williams' return. After missing the last two games with a sprained ankle, Williams says he will play for the first time since injuring his left ankle against Phoenix on Nov. 15.

The Nets' starting five may not be complete, with Brook Lopez nursing a sprained ankle. Jason Kidd said the team will see how Lopez feels after shootaround. But Williams' return should help the Nets in their continuing effort to develop chemistry with the starting five. Williams also says he won't be on a minutes restriction.

"I feel better about this group man," Garnett said about the team's state of mind after Monday's meeting. "We still haven’t been whole. We’re still dealing with different ailments and the minute we have all our guys back, we go through something (new). So it’s just always something at this point. We’re not using any excuses. We’re not that type of team. We’re all trying to find our identity and who we are and what we’re going to be night in and night out and be consistent with that."

A big part of that will be Williams, who should be able to not only help the Nets' perimeter shooting with his stroke but perhaps get his teammates some closer shots to the basket with penetration. Williams says the team knows it has to start playing better despite the constant lineup changes due to injuries.

"A sense of urgency," Williams described the team's mentality. "We've got to turn it around, fast. We've dug ourselves a bit of a hole and now it's time to fight out of it. We've played good in stretches but we haven't put together 48 minutes of great basketball consistently, so that's what we have to try to do."

Up now: The Nets have struggled out of the gates and play five road games in their next seven outings. Kidd has to be the glue to keep things from unraveling quickly.

Paul Pierce says the Nets are an angry bunch after losing five of their last six.

Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko made the trip and could be nearing a return.

Net fact: Charlotte may be the perfect opponent for the Nets to snap out of their funk. The Nets have beaten the Bobcats in seven straight meetings dating back to Jan. 22, 2012. That is their longest active winning streak against any team, although the Bobcats have been playing better this season with a 5-6 record.

What's next: The Nets play the Bobcats at 7 p.m. in the first of two straight road games.

Net question: Is Deron Williams the key to the Nets' success this season? How important do you think Williams' role is this season? Let us know below.