The Brooklyn Nets continue to battle the Philadelphia 76ers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference although their superstar trio of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden has not been in the lineup together with any consistency. They have only played seven games together this season.
Yet their revolving absences from the lineup has not impacted the Nets’ position at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. After easily defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday afternoon by 127-97, Brooklyn was 37-17 and tied with the 76ers, also 37-17, for first place in the East when two teams faced each other last night in Philadelphia.
Durant led the Nets with 31 points versus the Wolves. They were missing Irving due to personal reasons as well as Harden, who is recovering from a strained hamstring. “I felt like my wind and legs are getting up under me, each and every minute I’m playing,” Durant said after shooting 11-15 from the field and 5-6 from the foul line in only 27 minutes of floor time.
The Nets had not confirmed Irving’s availability for the game against the 76ers as of early yesterday morning and Harden was ruled out. Durant’s status was uncertain to play the second game of a back-to-back after being sidelined from Feb. 13 to April 7, a total of 23 games, with a strained left hamstring.
“I want to play just to get back in the swing of things, more so than pinpointing that matchup,” Durant said on Tuesday. “We want to get everybody healthy and acclimated to what we’re doing out there, and I think that’s just as important rather than circling the calendar,” Durant said.
The Nets were originally scheduled to play the Timberwolves on Monday. But the killing on Sunday of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, forced a postponement of the game. Wright was shot by police officer Kim Potter after he was stopped driving an SUV that had an expired license plate.
The NBA released a statement on Monday reading “In light of the tragic events in the Minneapolis area yesterday, tonight’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center has been postponed.”
The decision was made by the NBA after consulting with the Timberwolves, and local and state officials.
“Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Daunte Wright during this difficult time,” the league statement empathized. The Nets will host the Charlotte Hornets tomorrow at the Barclays Center, then have three straight games on the road against the Miami Heat on Sunday, the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.