The cliche “what goes up must come down” is a tough one to swallow. Amid a run in which the Brooklyn Nets have won 18 of their last 20 games, they are faced with a roadblock as the team announced that Kevin Durant has sprained his right MCL and will miss at least two weeks before getting reevaluated.
Durant exited Sunday’s game against Miami early after sustaining the injury in the third quarter. The Nets scrapped out a 102-101 victory over the Heat thanks to Kyrie Irving’s 29 points and a game-winning bucket by Royce O’Neale. The Nets have historically struggled without their star, going 8-19 without KD during the 2021-22 season. The Nets are currently second in the Eastern Conference and are en route to overtaking the Boston Celtics, but just how far will Durant’s injury set them back?
Durant’s impact so far this season
Not only does this misfortune potentially stunt the Nets’ winning spree, but it could also diminish an MVP-candidate season for the 34-year-old. Aside from averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game, Durant has been shooting a career-high 55.9 percent from the field. The past two seasons for the Nets have proven that neither Durant nor Irving can lead the Nets on their own. Though the Nets are 7-3 without Irving this season, it is easy to tell that both men and the Nets play better when 7/11 is in full service.
While the Nets have established themselves as a well-rounded team overall, they still lean heavily on Durant as their primary scoring option on a nightly basis. The length of his healing period could also affect his participation in the NBA All-Star game on Feb. 19. However, should Durant be back sooner than later, here’s what the next two weeks hold for the Nets.
What is ahead of the Nets without Durant?
Realistically, Durant will be sidelined for at least three weeks, assuming they give him more time to nurse the injury after getting reevaluated. Fans can at least hope that Durant is back and healthy before February arrives. The Nets have six games scheduled before Durant gets reevaluated. Starting with the Boston Celtics on Thursday, Jan. 12, and ending with a road game against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 22. The rest of their January schedule also includes games against the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks.
The injury strikes a nerve for the Nets, as Durant also suffered a sprained MCL almost a year ago. Durant fell to the injury on Jan. 15 and did not return until March 3. The Nets went 5-16 while Durant was recovering. As a result, they had to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Play-In tournament before getting swept by the Celtics in the first round.
Despite Durant’s injury, the Nets are keeping their heads high down the stretch. “He’s in good spirits, as we all are,” Irving stated after Sunday’s victory. “The strength of our team is us picking each other up, and being ready for whatever is thrown at us.”