After a week of bad breaks for Brooklyn, the Nets get some good news to start off the week. Nets star forward Kevin Durant has been ruled active for Sunday’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the Nets will gain back one superstar in their starting lineup, one remains unavailable as Kyrie Irving will miss a third straight game on Sunday due to “personal reasons” according to Brooklyn’s Head Coach Steve Nash. After a rocky start to the season, getting both Irving and Durant back and keeping them healthy is a top priority for Nash and the Nets.
Brooklyn Has Depended Heavily on Its’ Reserves
While the Nets await Irving’s return, Durant coming back will fill a huge void for the Brooklyn Nets. KD has been putting up MVP-like numbers this season averaging 28.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. In the absence of Durant and Irving “the other guys” have held it down for Brooklyn. Joe Harris had 28 points off the bench in an impressive victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. The very next night Caris LeVert dropped 43 points against the Grizzlies albeit in a losing effort.
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Durant has implored the Nets that no matter who is on the floor for Brooklyn, having the next man up mentality is what will help this team succeed. “Kev texted us and said, ‘Next man up,’” Nets’ shooting guard Bruce Brown said to reporters on a Zoom call after Tuesday’s blowout. “We’re all ready. We all know, when our time comes, we are going to be ready.”
Nets Have No Target Date for Irving’s Return
The Nets had a scheduled return date for Durant as he was on one-week quarantine due to COVID-19 contact tracing. However, when it comes to Kyrie Irving, the Nets are pretty much playing it game by game as they await his return. Steve Nash has said that as of Sunday, Irving is still on personal leave and all the communication between Irving and management will continue to be private, according to Kristian Winfield of the Daily News.
According to Anthony Puccio of The Association Irving’s “personal leave” is due to him protesting the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and the lack of repercussions for the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.
The Nets Have Struggled but It Could Be Worse
The Nets currently sit at 5-5 and are tenth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Given that they have played the majority of their games without their three stars they could be in a way worse position. Durant and Irving alone have missed a combined eight games thus far in this young season. After the Nets started off strong the first two games of the season the narrative was that the only thing that could stop them was injuries. So far that theory has held true.