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, but it surely’s not precisely the identical story, and a unique 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 Heart 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 employees 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. Folks on the sidelines of the rotation might get alternatives, however this may nonetheless be circumstantial.

“The practice will hold shifting,” Vaughn mentioned.

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 now have to be higher at,” mentioned Vaughn. “These have 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 strategy this factor,” mentioned Vaughn. Brooklyn will most likely play just a little bit sooner, most likely [take] Just a few extra seconds to make up for Kevin’s mid-range pictures. Durant averages 29.7 factors and has a utilization charge of 31.1 p.c, so, naturally, there will likely be extra touches being made.

“The very best participant on this planet is out, however the gamers need to step up,” mentioned Nets senior Nick Claxton. “We have been on this place earlier than.”

Irving would turn into the Nets’ No. 1 scoring possibility. Simmons, whose utilization charge is all the way down to 14.2 p.c this season, should naturally bear extra of the burden of the sport trade. The subsequent step for Simmons, Vaughn mentioned, is to “play each possession aggressively,” including that his tempo and straightforward pictures 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 undoubtedly want that with Kevin out.”

Vaughn declined to say who would exchange 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 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 all the things easier. Each time he will get out of the parking zone, runs the ball over or catches the ball on the put up, 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 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 skill. The hope is that, collectively, they may have sufficient gaming trade, taking pictures, 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 would possibly make the All-NBA Group, and he is made nice strides as a playmaker. Yūta Watanabe and Warren have been most likely the 2 greatest signings of any staff this previous summer time. The items match so nicely that the Nets have gained 18 of their final 20 video games, and solely Boston Celtics We now have the very best report within the NBA this season. Claxton mentioned they have been “undoubtedly” higher geared up to cope with Durant’s absence than they have been final season, due to “our spirit, our vitality, our feelings and the way in which 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 staff’s resolve. “No excuses, that is a very powerful factor for this group,” mentioned Vaughn. Then he began making a remark about final yr’s staff, 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 search 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 towards Boston on Thursday.

This is not a great deduction on this state of affairs, however hey, it may very well 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 staff traveled to Washington. Irving was not allowed within the ring. The Nets, who’re on an eight-game dropping 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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