Though it shouldn’t come as a surprise, the Nets will be playing shorthanded while hosting the Portland TrailBlazers Friday.
After his 42-point masterclass against the Indiana Pacers, Kevin Durant will be held out against the Blazers due to “injury management of his left hamstring,” per the official status report. No shocker here; Durant has not participated in a back-to-back since January 13th against the New York Knicks, the day that the Nets made the James Harden trade and had just nine players available.
With Durant out, Kyrie Irving will step in his shoes and man the responsibilities as Brooklyn’s star leader. Irving, of course, did not play against Indiana and will be rested up for the battle against the perennial Pacific Northwest playoff team.
The biggest surprise on the status report was Bruce Brown, who remains out with knee soreness. On Tuesday, head coach Steve Nash said that he expected to get Brown back by Friday. Clearly, things have changed since then.
“Just some soreness, swelling in his knee so he’s not on this trip, but we expect him back on Friday,” said Nash on Tuesday. “The word that he gave me was that it wasn’t limiting him so much, but I think when you have that much fluid in it, it’s beneficial to take it out, and then when you take it out, you do need a few days. He’s positive, optimistic as we are that he’ll be back Friday.”
With Brown and his rebounding prowess out of the fold (second on the Nets in boards per game during the month of April), look for Alize Johnson, fresh off a 20/20 game against the Pacers, to pick up the slack on the glass.
As for the rest, Nicolas Claxton remains in health and safety protocols and will miss his seventh consecutive game, the longest stretch of any player on the Nets this season. James Harden (right hamstring strain), Chris Chiozza (right-hand fracture), and Spencer Dinwiddie (right ACL partial tear) all remain out as well.
Should the Nets pull this one off, it’ll be in the mix for the best victory of the season. The Blazers allow the fifth-most corner threes on the worst percentage in the league (opponents are shooting 44.1 percent on corner looks against Portland, yikes!), so if the Nets do come out victorious, expect three-point shooting to be a big factor.