With All-Star forward Kevin Durant now sidelined for four to six weeks due to a sprained MCL of his left knee, an injury that occurred while colliding with teammate Bruce Brown on Saturday at the Barclays Center in a 120-105 Nets win, the team may be close to sending out a red alert distress signal. And it’s not a call to famed Harlem Hip Hop DJ Red Alert either.
Playing without Durant, their most productive player, is a huge void for the Nets to try to fill. He is the NBA’s leading scorer at 29.3 points per game and is also second on the team in rebounds (7.4) and assists (5.8). Guard James Harden, whose stats are 22.7 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists, and his part time backcourt mate Kyrie Irving, who is at 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, expected to generate the bulk of the offense.
The Nets will also look to players such as veterans Patty Mills, fourth in scoring on the team at 13.4, and LeMarcus Aldridge, who was putting up 13.3 points and 5.6 rebounds when the Nets faced the Washington Wizards on the road last night (Wednesday), to continue to provide leadership and strong numbers. The Nets were 27-16 when the NBA schedule began on Tuesday night, third in the Eastern Conference behind the 27-15 Chicago Bulls and 28-16 Miami Heat. Irving said Durant’s injury will not change his decision to remain unvaccinated. He is unable to play home games due to the New York City mandate that requires proof of vaccination to enter large indoor public venues.
“Kev’s going to heal, Kev’s going to be OK, and we’re going to have to deal with that as his teammates,” said Irving speaking about Durant after dropping a team-high 27 points in a 114-107 road defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. “But in terms of where I am with my life outside of this, I stay rooted in my decision. And that’s just what it is…
“Again, I respect everyone else’s decision, I’m not going to ever try to convince anyone of anything or any of that, I’m just standing rooted in what I believe in. And though we’re dealing with this right now with Kev, I just know that I’m protected by the organization, I’m protected by my teammates, I’m protected by all the doctors I’ve talked to. And I just stand rooted.”
The Nets will play away games against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. They will return to Brooklyn to host the Los Angeles Lakers next Tuesday and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The Nets will then go on a nine-day, five-game Western Conference road trip from Jan. 29 to through Feb. 6.