Kevin Durant will be out for at least the next three games in compliance with the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. The Nets’ next three opponents are the Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder. So far so good without KD for the Nets as they blew out the Utah Jazz by 34 points on Tuesday. While KD understands how important his role with the team is, he is not allowing his absence to be an excuse for the Nets to not play their game. He sent the message loud and clear to everyone in Brooklyn’s locker room.
KD Has High Expectations for Nets
“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’re going to be ready. People took the challenge tonight to step up and play well, and we did that.” While “next man up” is a good motto to live by, it is much harder than it sounds, especially for the Nets. Spencer Dinwiddie and Kevin Durant are not players that can easily be replaced and Kyrie Irving is aware of that. “Everyone likes to say this phrase ‘Next Man Up Mentality,’ but it’s hard to do that when we started off kind of the last few months together. And we have played together a certain type of style, and then we have one of our pieces go down,” Kyrie told reporters on Thursday. “It’s the tale of the business. Guys get hurt all the time. We have to figure out some things that work for the group that we put out there.”
Jarrett Allen Was Impressive in Brooklyn Win
Without Dinwiddie and Durant on the floor Brooklyn’s offense looks very different. The starters for last night’s game were Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, Taurean Prince, Jeff Green, and Jarrett Allen, a lineup that had never played together before Tuesday. Jarrett Allen in the starting lineup was one of the pleasant surprises for the Nets in the blowout. Allen’s final stat line was 19 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
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Many have wondered why Allen was not inserted into the starting lineup earlier this season as he is averaging nearly a double-double off the bench. Head Coach Steve Nash is taking the process game by game but is being very careful as to not create friction in the Nets Locker room. “They both play. JA has been outstanding and will play plenty, if not the bulk of the minutes, but for right now, he’s just playing those minutes from the second unit,” Nash told reporters on a recent zoom call. He closed the game against Atlanta on Wednesday. I just don’t want it to become some sort of thing where we’re pitting our guys against each other because I think the group has got a pretty good vibe right now.”
The Nets will be missing 28.0 points per game from Durant while he quarantines. If players like Allen can continue to step up in his absence the void will seem much smaller.