Kyrie Irving Added to Nets Injury Report Moments Before Clash With Warriors

Kyrie Irving

Getty Kyrie Irving brings the ball up the floor against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Brooklyn Nets were looking to make history on December 21 in their clash with the Golden State Warriors. Historic in that it would be the first time that the Nets had a clean injury report since superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined the franchise in July 2019.

But unfortunately for Nets fans, that dream was a short-lived one. Less than two hours before tip-off, the Nets announced that Kyrie was added to the injury report as questionable for the matchup with right calf tightness.

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Zach Lowe: Nic Claxton Is Nets ‘Unsung Hero’

The Nets have looked like a completely different team since firing Steve Nash and naming former interim head coach Jacque Vaughan as his full-time replacement. Brooklyn is amid a six-game winning streak and has climbed up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, just 3.5 games out of the top spot.

But Vaughan is not the sole reason for the Nets’ recent success. A lot of that can also be attributed to the much-improved play of their starting center Nicolas Claxton. ESPN’s Zach Lowe calls Claxton Brooklyn’s “unsung hero”.

“[T]he unsung hero is Nicolas Claxton. Claxton has been dynamic enough on offense to inspire some faith in Claxton-Simmons lineups — the Nets’ only road map to viable defense and rebounding. Claxton can corral guards on switches or barricade the rim in conservative schemes; opponents are shooting just 53% at the basket with Claxton nearby. He’s not strong enough to plug Brooklyn’s rebounding leakage, but he is snaring defensive boards at a career-best rate,” Lowe writes.

“On offense, Claxton is a solid rim-runner and lob-catcher with a knack for cutting at the right time. He’s a canny screener, mixing hard hits and darting slips that force switches.”

Nic Claxton Makes Strong Statement About His Performance

Claxton is in the middle of a career year as he is averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category, including points, assists, steals, and field-goal percentages. But what has really stood out about the Nets’ big man is his presence on the interior as he is averaging an eye-opening 2.4 blocks per game, also a career-high.

The Nets, for so long, outsourced to find the center that could make them a contender, and the answer may have been in their locker room the entire time. Claxton believes his performance this season has earned him the right to be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.

“It’s just me being me. Honestly, I feel that I am one of the best defenders in the league. I feel I should be in the talk for the Defensive Player of the Year. I feel like I wasn’t getting the respect I deserve. We’re winning, my numbers are good protecting the rim, guarding 1 through 5,” Claxton said after the Nets’ win over the Toronto Raptors on December 16.

“So, it’s just me being me, bringing energy and it’s great for the team.”

The more the Nets continue to win, the less likely it seems this current string of success is a fluke. If this team is legit, they have all the tools to be a threat in the Eastern Conference come playoff time.

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