rewrite this title Nets’ Cam Johnson, Nic Claxton receive Jacque Vaughn injury updates amid surprise absences

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The Brooklyn Nets will already be without two of their top players for the second game of the season. Cam Johnson (left calf contusion) and Nic Claxton (ankle) were ruled out ahead of Friday’s road matchup with Dallas.

Johnson missed nearly the entire preseason after straining his left hamstring days before training camp. The 6-foot-8 sharpshooter saw his first game action of 2023-24 during Wednesday’s season-opener loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He struggled to gain a rhythm offensively, posting 12 points, five rebounds and three assists on 5-of-10 shooting.

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said Johnson’s calf injury is unrelated to his hamstring strain, and the team is “being precautious” by holding him out, per Brian Lewis and Peter Sblendorio.

Claxton was in a walking boot at shootaround Friday. The 24-year-old appeared to injure his ankle while taking a hard fall after his feet got tangled with Damian Jones against Cleveland. He finished the game but was laboring throughout the second half, posting seven points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks on 3-of-10 shooting for the night.

Vaughn said Claxton was day-to-day.

With Johnson and Claxton out, the Nets will start Cam Thomas and Dorian Finney-Smith alongside Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges and Ben Simmons. Thomas scored 36 points on 13-of-21 shooting during Wednesday’s loss, the most in NBA history for a player off the bench in a season-opening game. Friday will mark the seventh start of his NBA career, with four coming last season and two during his rookie year.

Finney-Smith started all 30 of his games with the Nets after his trade to Brooklyn last season.

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