Kevin Durant is out with another sprain in the MCL, but it’s a different story for the Nets this season

New York – Kevin Durant is sidelined with an MCL sprain, similar to he was final January, nevertheless it’s not precisely the identical story, and a special normal state of affairs. This time, on the evening Durant was injured, it was Brooklyn Networks He had a clear harm report. Final time round, there have been two rookies within the beginning lineup and 5 gamers on harm report, together with Kyrie Irving, who was ineligible to play at Barclays Middle as a result of he was not vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19.

Final time, Brooklyn misplaced 16 of 21 video games after Durant was injured. Earlier than and after the blockbuster James Harden-Ben Simmons deal, which occurred throughout that interval, the teaching workers needed to piece collectively a brand new spin for nearly each sport. This time, the networks are in a a lot much less dire place. Brooklyn coach Jack Vaughn mentioned after follow Wednesday that the identical gamers who performed probably the most minutes will proceed to play probably the most minutes. Individuals on the sidelines of the rotation might get alternatives, however it will nonetheless be circumstantial.

“The practice will maintain transferring,” Vaughn mentioned.

With out Durant, the Nets wish to scale back their errors, restrict their turnover and enhance their rebounding. “All of the issues that enhance or lower your margins, we now have to be higher at,” mentioned Vaughn. “These had been actually factors of focus, however they’re extra necessary” as a result of Kevin could make us a shot and canopy a few of our sins. ”

“There will not be main modifications, philosophically talking, to how we method this factor,” mentioned Vaughn. Brooklyn will most likely play slightly bit quicker, most likely [take] A number of extra seconds to make up for Kevin’s mid-range photographs. Durant averages 29.7 factors and has a utilization charge of 31.1 p.c, so, naturally, there might be extra touches being made.

“One of the best participant on the earth is out, however the gamers must step up,” mentioned Nets senior Nick Claxton. “We have been on this place earlier than.”

Irving would turn out to be the Nets’ No. 1 scoring choice. Simmons, whose utilization charge is right down to 14.2 p.c this season, should naturally bear extra of the burden of the sport business. The subsequent step for Simmons, Vaughn mentioned, is to “play each possession aggressively,” including that his tempo and straightforward photographs are actually necessities.

Vaughn recalled final Friday’s sport vs New Orleans Pelicans for example. Early within the sport, Simmons caught CJ McCollum full court docket and attacked the basket a number of occasions.

“Now, are you able to do this on the 18-minute mark, 24-minute mark, 40-minute mark?” Vaughn mentioned. “However that is the development we’re in, the place it is nonetheless the identical factor and also you see it, however can you retain seeing it? As a result of we positively want that with Kevin out.”

Vaughn declined to say who would substitute Durant within the beginning lineup. The cleanest match, when it comes to offensive ability set, can be TJ Warren, who shoots 52 p.c from center vary, in Cleansing The Glass. Warren basically missed two seasons earlier than returning in early December. He averaged 19.9 minutes in 16 video games and exceeded 27 minutes solely as soon as. Vaughn mentioned the Nets’ precedence is to maintain Warren wholesome for the remainder of the season, so he will not be enjoying 40 minutes. Nonetheless, it’s unclear whether or not they assume 30 to 35 is an excessive amount of.

Superstars like Durant make the whole lot easier. Each time he will get out of the parking zone, runs the ball over or catches the ball on the submit, he is an issue for the protection. When half of the sector is nowhere in possession, he can arrange a shot himself or pull a second defender on his personal. He is additionally a official candidate for the whole protection, and the Nets merely cannot hook up with one other participant and duplicate his help protection across the rim, his size, and his switching capacity. The hope is that, collectively, they may have sufficient gaming business, capturing, scale, and variety to remain afloat (and that Durant would not be out for lengthy).

Royce O’Neal has been an necessary a part of Brooklyn’s success this season, particularly as a result of Joe Harris remains to be discovering his footing. Claxton may make the All-NBA Group, and he is made nice strides as a playmaker. Yūta Watanabe and Warren had been most likely the 2 finest signings of any workforce this previous summer time. The items match so properly that the Nets have received 18 of their final 20 video games, and solely Boston Celtics We’ve got the very best report within the NBA this season. Claxton mentioned they had been “positively” higher outfitted to cope with Durant’s absence than they had been final season, due to “our spirit, our vitality, our feelings and the way in which we had been defending”.

A equally optimistic Vaughn pointed to Brooklyn’s dramatic win Sunday, by which Durant left the sport early and trailed by 9 factors within the fourth quarter, as proof of the workforce’s resolve. “No excuses, that is crucial factor for this group,” mentioned Vaughn. Then he began making a remark about final yr’s workforce, then stopped mid-sentence. “I’ll simply say no excuses, I’m not giving this group an opportunity to make excuses.”

Might the Simmons-Claxton lineup do with out Durant within the image? Can networks get sufficient breakpoints with out it? If Warren is beginning, who can ship a punch within the second unit? Will they should name in Seth Curry’s minions to seek out extra insult? Will they sacrifice scale and selection to play Curry and Irving collectively? Brooklyn has to reply these questions within the subsequent few weeks, beginning with the return sport in opposition to Boston on Thursday.

This is not a great deduction on this state of affairs, however hey, it could possibly be worse. Final season, when Brooklyn hosted the Celtics throughout Durant’s absence, Harden was nonetheless technically on the roster however took his seat on the bench after a tip-off and would fly to Houston the following day whereas the remainder of the workforce traveled to Washington. Irving was not allowed within the ring. The Nets, who’re on an eight-game shedding streak, began Patty Mills, Bruce Brown, DeAndre Pembry, Kessler Edwards and Blake Griffin and introduced in Jevon Carter, David Duke Jr., Cam Thomas, Dayron Sharp, W.J. James Johnson on the bench. Boston received 126-91.

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