Sunday night Kevin Durant returned to the Brooklyn Nets lineup after missing the team’s last four games. Durant was required to complete a seven-day quarantine as per league protocols after coming in contact with an individual who contracted the coronavirus. While the Nets were overjoyed about the return of their star forward, there is still a gaping hole in their offense. That would be their starting point guard Kyrie Irving.
Durant Sounds off on Kyrie
Sunday was the third straight game that Irving did not suit up due to “personal reasons.” Although Kyrie’s presence is clearly missed on the floor his teammates like Kevin Durant fully support his decision. “I wouldn’t speak for Kyrie, I’ll let him do that for himself,” Durant told reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Thunder. “I’m sure you guys will see him soon after he comes back,” Durant said. ‘We support him 100% and pray for the best.”
Durant picked up right where he left off putting up a season-high 36 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Durant on the season is averaging 29.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Sunday’s matchup against the Thunder was Durant’s sixth straight game in which he netted 25 points or more. This is the longest stretch of consecutive 25-point performances by a Nets player since Deron Williams in 2011-12 when the team was still in New Jersey.
Nets Stand Behind Kyrie 100%
Many have speculated that these personal reasons that have made Irving decide to not be with the team are due to Wednesday’s events at the Capitol Building. While the team has made it clear that they fully stand behind Irving’s decision, it is obvious that they have suffered in his absence. The team has gone 1-2 in Kyrie’s absence and has fallen behind in the standings as they are now 10th place in the East. Fortunately for Irving, many of his teammates understand that some things are bigger than basketball. “That’s a personal issue for him,” LeVert told reporters over Zoom after Thursday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers. “We support him, you know, he’s our brother. We went out there and competed without him. Like I said, it was a personal issue for him.”
Nash Not Worried About Kyrie’s Rhythm
While Kyrie’s personal leave is for good reason, the fact remains that five days have passed since he has left the team. To get back in game shape after such a long layoff will be a tough hill to climb. Brooklyn’s Head Coach Steve Nash is not worried about Irving’s rhythm. When you are a player of Irving’s caliber, the game comes to you naturally. “I don’t worry about Kyrie falling out of rhythm,” Nash told reporters over Zoom on Friday. “He’s a brilliant basketball player and when he comes back, I’m sure it won’t take him long to be himself. Whenever he’s back, I think he’ll be himself relatively quickly. So that’s not a concern.”
While “next man up” has been the mantra of the Nets all season they are running out of men. Spencer Dinwiddie was ruled out for the rest of the season after just three games due to a partially torn ACL and Kevin Durant just completed a seven-day quarantine. The team is already on the outside of the playoff picture and while they support his decisions fully, they need to consider making a move to aid the team in Irving’s absence.