The Brooklyn Nets have been hit extremely hard by the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Nets All-Stars James Harden, Kevin Durant, and the recently reinstated Kyrie Irving had all entered the league’s protocols. A plethora of other players had entered the league’s protocols as well leaving their roster extremely depleted. In the team’s last game against the Orlando Magic, the Nets were without 10 of their players which meant an increased minutes load for everyone that was available. The Nets have not played a game since December 18 as they just have not had a sufficient number of active players on their roster, forcing the games to be postponed until a later date.
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Nets Give Updates on ‘Big 3’ Status for Lakers Game
The Nets’ next scheduled game is on Christmas Day in a showdown with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and the Los Angeles Lakers. It is a matchup that many people expected to be an NBA Finals preview when the schedule was released. But this game will look a lot different than most expected, with Lakers star Anthony Davis out for at least four weeks due to injury and so many of the Nets players still in the league’s health and safety protocols. On Tuesday, Nets head coach Steve Nash said that Brooklyn will have at least one of their stars available for the matchup but have lost three of their standout rookies in the process.
“Nets [head] coach Steve Nash said that while [James] Harden, [Paul] Millsap, and [Jevon] Carter have been cleared, Cam Thomas, David Duke Jr., and Kessler Edwards have entered health and safety protocols,” Nash said to reporters per ESPN.
“Despite the fact that the Nets have not been able to practice as a group this week due to a COVID-19 outbreak that has seen as many as 13 Nets enter protocols since Dec. 13, Nash expects the Christmas game with the Lakers at 8 p.m. ET to still be on from the Nets’ perspective.”
Nash also added that as it stands right now, the team is not expecting anyone else to be released from health and safety protocols which means that Kyrie and Durant will not be available for the Christmas Day game. LeBron and KD have not faced off since the 2018 season.
“We are not expecting anyone else to come out of protocols [in time for the Christmas Day game], but it is possible,” Nash continued. “I think you have to do two negative tests 24 hours apart. I guess that gives us to tonight and tomorrow night to return two negatives, but we are not predicting anybody to come out necessarily.”
Kyrie Needs ‘Ramp-Up’ Period Before Returning
Many fans speculated that the timing of the Nets’ choice to reinstate Kyrie was so that he could be available to play against the Lakers on Christmas. But Nash says that even after Kyrie clears the health and safety protocols, he still has to go through a ramp-up period before his return. He has not played in an NBA game since May.
“I think he has to do some sort of ramp-up, some sort of playing. When you’re at home working out by yourself, it’s a lot different. It depends on what you’re doing, but usually individual workouts are half-court and 1-on-0, one-on-one, maybe he gets a little bit of pickup basketball, but that probably was out the window once everyone starts playing again [during their season],” Nash continued.
“So there is, I think, a ramp-up, an opportunity for him to play a little bit whether it’s with our group or the stay-ready group whenever he’s out of protocols. There’s a ramp-up for sure.”
The Nets still sit locked in the top spot in the east with a record of 21-9. A road win over the Lakers, with an undermanned roster, would be one of their most impressive wins of the year.