Another MCL sprain has sidelined Kevin Durant, but the Nets are in a different situation

January 12, 2023

Similar to how he was in January of last year, Kevin Durant is out with a sprained MCL, but this isn’t quite the same injury and circumstance. The Brooklyn Nets, this time, had an apparent injury report on the night that Durant was hurt. The previous game featured two rookies in the starting lineup and five players with injuries, including Kyrie Irving, who could not compete at the Barclays Center due to his lack of COVID-19 vaccination.


When Durant got hurt the last time, Brooklyn dropped 16 of its next 21 games. The coaching staff had to put together a new rotation almost every game before and after the James Harden-Ben Simmons blockbuster trade, which took place during that time. The Nets’ predicament this time around is much less uncertain. After practice on Wednesday, Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said that the same players who have been playing the majority of the minutes would continue to do so. The ones on the periphery of the rotation may be given opportunities, but that will depend on the circumstances.


The train will continue to run, declared Vaughn.


The Nets want to reduce fouls, limit turnovers, and boost rebounding without Durant. According to Vaughn, we need to get better at all the things that either increase or decrease our margins. These were already significant points, but they’re even more crucial now that Kevin can make a shot for us and atone for some of our transgressions.”


According to Vaughn, no “major shifts in our philosophy of how we would handle this,” will occur. To compensate for Kevin’s midrange shots, Brooklyn will play “quite faster, probably [take] a few more 3s.”. There will undoubtedly be more touches because Durant averages 29 points per game and uses the ball 31 points percent of the time.


The best player in the world is out, but guys need to step up, said Nic Claxton, a big man for the Nets. “We’ve been in this situation before. “.


Irving is going to move up to the No.1 single-scoring option. Naturally, Simmons should handle more playmaking responsibilities, given that his usage rate has fallen 14 percent this season. The next step for Simmons, according to Vaughn, is to “play every possession with force,” He added that the pace and simple shots he generates are now essential.


Vaughn used the matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday of last week as an example. Simmons pulled up CJ McCollum full court in the game’s first minutes and kept going for the basket.


Can you perform it at the 18-minute, 24-minute, and 40-minute marks? Vaughn asked. “But that’s where we are now; it’s still the same thing, and you can see it; but can you do that consistently? Given that Kevin is absent, we most definitely need that.”


Vaughn opted not to reveal Durant’s replacement in the starting lineup. Regarding an attacking skill set, T.J. would be the most precise fit. According to Cleaning the Glass, Warren has a 52 percent midrange shooting rate. Before returning in early December, Warren had, in reality, missed two seasons. In 16 games, he has played 19.9 minutes on average and only over 27 minutes once. Warren won’t be playing 40 minutes, according to Vaughn, who stated that the Nets’ top aim is to keep him healthy for the remainder of the campaign. However, whether they believe 30 to 35 is excessive is still being determined.


Durant and other superstars simplify everything. He poses a challenge for the defense each time he emerges from a pindown, receives the ball in the post, or runs a pick-and-roll. He can make a shot for himself when a half-court possession fails or attract a second defender. He is also a severe All-Defense candidate, and the Nets can’t just replace him with another player and expect him to have the same help defense near the rim, length, and switchability. It is hoped they will survive thanks to their combined playmaking, shooting, size, and versatility (Durant won’t be away for too long).


Brooklyn’s success this season has been greatly aided by Royce O’Neale, especially since Joe Harris is still getting used to the team. Claxton has improved as a finisher and could be selected for the All-NBA team. The two best cheap signings any team made last summer might have been Warren and Yuta Watanabe. The only NBA team with a better record than the Brooklyn Nets this season is the Boston Celtics, whose last 20 games saw them win 18 of them. As a result of “our passion, our energy, our vibes, and the way that we’ve been defending,” Claxton said they are “definitely” better equipped to handle Durant’s unavailability than they were last season.”


A similarly upbeat Vaughn cited Brooklyn’s thrilling victory on Sunday when Durant left the game early, and the team trailed by nine points in the fourth quarter, as proof of the group’s tenacity. According to Vaughn, the most important thing for this group is “no excuses.”. He then began to say something about the team from the previous season but stopped in the middle of it. I’ll state that I won’t accept any excuses from this group. “.


Who can make a scoring punch on the second unit if Warren starts? Will they increase Seth Curry’s playing time to generate more offense? Will they give up their size and flexibility to play with Curry and Irving? Brooklyn must respond to these questions in the coming weeks, starting with a home game against Boston on Thursday.


Although there are better opponents than that in this scenario, it certainly could be worse. Last year, despite not being on the roster, Harden sat on the bench as Brooklyn hosted the Celtics while Durant was out. He flew to Houston the following day, leaving the rest of the team to travel to Washington. Irving was not permitted entry into the arena. The Nets, who entered the game with an eight-game losing streak, started Patty Mills, Bruce Brown, DeAndre’ Bembry, Kessler Edwards, and Blake Griffin. They also added Jevon Carter and David Duke Jr. James Johnson, Cam Thomas, and Day’Ron Sharpe came off the bench. Boston triumphed 126–91.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.