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, however it’s not precisely the identical story, and a special common 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 towards 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 recreation. This time, the networks are in a a lot much less dire place. Brooklyn coach Jack Vaughn stated after observe 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 this can nonetheless be circumstantial.

“The practice will hold shifting,” Vaughn stated.

With out Durant, the Nets wish to cut back their errors, restrict their turnover and enhance their rebounding. “All of the issues that improve or lower your margins, we’ve to be higher at,” stated Vaughn. “These have been actually factors of focus, however they’re extra vital” 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 strategy this factor,” stated Vaughn. Brooklyn will most likely play slightly bit quicker, most likely [take] A couple of extra seconds to make up for Kevin’s mid-range photographs. Durant averages 29.7 factors and has a utilization price of 31.1 p.c, so, naturally, there will probably be extra touches being made.

“The most effective participant on the earth is out, however the gamers need to step up,” stated Nets senior Nick Claxton. “We have been on this place earlier than.”

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

Vaughn recalled final Friday’s recreation vs New Orleans Pelicans for instance. Early within the recreation, 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 stated. “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, by way of offensive talent set, can be TJ Warren, who shoots 52 p.c from center vary, in Cleansing The Glass. Warren primarily 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 stated the Nets’ precedence is to maintain Warren wholesome for the remainder of the season, so he will not be enjoying 40 minutes. Nevertheless, it’s unclear whether or not they assume 30 to 35 is an excessive amount of.

Superstars like Durant make all the things less complicated. Each time he will get out of the car parking zone, runs the ball over or catches the ball on the submit, he is an issue for the protection. When half of the sphere is nowhere in possession, he can arrange a shot himself or pull a second defender on his personal. He is additionally a legit candidate for the entire 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 potential. The hope is that, collectively, they’ll 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 vital 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 Crew, and he is made nice strides as a playmaker. Yūta Watanabe and Warren have been most likely the 2 greatest signings of any group this previous summer season. The items match so properly that the Nets have gained 18 of their final 20 video games, and solely Boston Celtics We’ve got the very best document within the NBA this season. Claxton stated they have been “positively” higher geared up to cope with Durant’s absence than they have been final season, due to “our spirit, our power, our feelings and the best way we have been defending”.

A equally optimistic Vaughn pointed to Brooklyn’s dramatic win Sunday, through which Durant left the sport early and trailed by 9 factors within the fourth quarter, as proof of the group’s resolve. “No excuses, that is a very powerful factor for this group,” stated Vaughn. Then he began making a remark about final 12 months’s group, then stopped mid-sentence. “I’ll simply say no excuses, I’m not giving this group an opportunity to make excuses.”

May 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 recreation towards Boston on Thursday.

This is not a really perfect deduction on this state of affairs, however hey, it might 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 subsequent day whereas the remainder of the group 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 gained 126-91.

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