The Brooklyn Nets came into Thursday’s matchup with the Toronto Raptors looking to gain even more of an advantage in the Eastern Conference standings. They accomplished that and much more.
The Nets became the first Eastern Conference team this season to clinch a spot in the playoffs with a 116-103 road win over the Raptors.
Brooklyn has a record of 42-20 and is ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers by 1.5 games as they look to capture the Eastern Conference crown.
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Kevin Durant Sounds Off on His Shrinking Shot Attempts
Nets forward Kevin Durant started on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a thigh contusion last week in the team’s loss to the Miami Heat.
The 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player is normally the Nets primary scorer but on Tuesday he played a different role. Durant only took 7 shots but finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. He spoke on his limited shot attempts after the win over the Raptors.
“It’s my job, I get paid to make the right play every time. I’m not going to get it right every time, as long as I been in the league, as many double teams and gimmick defenses I done seen I have to be able to handle it,” Durant said via SNY.
“I definitely wanted to get my rhythm going and score a little bit more but I just try to be patient and take what was there. You know it was one of those nights where I wasn’t going to get a lot of shots up. I’m just glad we won and that guys like Mike [James], Tyler [Johnson] and Landry [Shamet], and Jeff [Green] had big scoring nights for us to take the pressure off of us. It makes us unpredictable.”
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Durant Did Not Start Against Suns
Durant did not start during his return to the court on Sunday when the team faced the Phoenix Suns who are second place in the Western Conference. Still, he had an impressive performance off of the bench during a noteworthy victory over one of the league’s best teams.
Nets head coach Steve Nash sounded off on his decision to bring Durant off the bench after Sunday’s win.
“You think big picture. I’d rather fall behind and have Kevin in the back pocket than go up and say ‘ok Kevin, you’re done’ in the third quarter. That’s kind of the give and take of it and he’s been on board with it,” Nash said of Durant being a reserve via NetsDaily.
“Props to Kevin for being willing to try something like this that gives us a chance to be as flexible as we can be under this circumstance.”
Durant scored 33 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists in just 28 minutes of play on Sunday. Time and time again this year, KD has proven to not be affected by any rust coming off long-term injuries.
“Kevin has shown his scoring doesn’t seem to get affected from a long layoff,” Nash continued. “Whether it was coming off the Achilles, coming off the hamstring. It seems to come right back. His rhythm and timing are excellent. It’s very impressive, for sure.”
James Harden Is Still Out
Nets star James Harden is still out. ‘The Beard’ suffered a setback last week in his recovery from a hamstring injury that he sustained against the New York Knicks on April 5.
Steve Nash gave an update on the nine-time All-Star before Tuesday’s game.
“He’s here with us traveling. He was shooting [Tuesday] morning and just starting to build up what his capacity is,” Nash said via Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
“He’s not doing any high-intensity stuff, but he’s shooting and doing all his strength and rehabilitation work.”
The Nets finally have some consistency going and are playing some of the best basketball that they have all season. With Harden’s return to the floor still looming, the Nets look like a team that could be truly terrifying in the playoffs.