Joe Harris (303771)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

Thirteen games remain on the Brooklyn Nets’ regular season schedule, beginning tomorrow night against the Boston Celtics Barclays Center. They’ll remain home to host the Phoenix Suns before traveling to Florida, where the Raptors are playing their home games this season due to COVID restrictions in Canada, to take on Toronto next Tuesday.

The Nets were 38-19, one half game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the best record in the Eastern Conference, after defeating the Pelicans by 134-129 Tuesday night in New Orleans. They were still without James Harden (hamstring) and Kevin Durant (thigh contusion) but had Kyrie Irving, who scored 37 points on 12-19 shooting.

The Nets have prospered with various lineups that have been absent at least one of the superstar trio. In total, Harden, Durant and Irving have only played seven games together this season.

Harden last played on March 31 and Durant was on the court for only four minutes on Sunday afternoon versus the Miami Heat—a 109-107 Nets loss—before leaving the game. After scoring the team’s first eight points, he exited in what has become a common site in another injury-filled season for the 11-time All-Star. Guard Joe Harris is the only Net that has appeared in all 58 of the team’s games while Durant has only played in 24. “He’s been over-reliable,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash of Harris, who scored 24 points versus the Pelicans and is averaging 14.3 on 51.2% shooting overall and 47.7% on threes.

“He is a warrior that just wants to play every night. And when I even bring up rest, he’s not into it at all.” Nash has had to formulate over 30 starting line-ups this season.

Brooklyn will no longer have the benefit of the 19.4 points and 8.3 rebounds that LaMarcus Aldridge averaged over a 15-year career with the Portland Trailblazers (2006-15), San Antonio Spurs (2015-2021) and briefly with the Nets. He retired last week after signing with the Nets at the end of March following a buy-out by the Spurs.

As a rookie in 2007, Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, an abnormality that can cause a rapid heartbeat. Aldridge experienced heart issues on April 10 when the Nets played the Lakers at home and missed the next two games, which led to his abrupt retirement on April 15.

“My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat. Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse which really worried me even more,” wrote Aldridge on a social media post. “Though I’m better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest I’ve experienced,” expressed Aldridge. “With that being said, I’ve made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA.

“For 15 years, I’ve put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and my family first.”