The Brooklyn Nets entered Friday’s matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers shorthanded as we noted earlier. Head coach Steve Nash expanded on some of his team’s absences just before tip-off, beginning with Kevin Durant, fresh off 42 points against the Indiana Pacers.
“I spoke to him this morning, he wanted to play tonight,” said Nash about Durant sitting due to ‘injury management’ against Portland. “I had to be the grinch and tell him that’s not on. He feels great and he’s progressing, so we’re really pleased with that.”
Nash also explained it may be a while until we see James Harden on the floor.
“James is probably a ways away. But he’s working, getting better, improving, and moving in the right direction, and we’re all positive and optimistic about his long-term outlook,” said Nash about Harden. “But I still think we've got plenty of time before he’s back on the floor.”
How long, you may ask?
“We’ll see,” said Nash about a James Harden regular-season return. “I’m not 100% sure whether he will or he won’t. I just don’t want to make a guess on one side or the other because I don’t think that serves anyone, because it’s out of our control. We’re really waiting to see how he responds, how he heals, how quickly he gets there, and then how quickly he can handle high-intensity NBA-level work.”
Although the Nets end the regular season on May 16, the NBA playoffs don’t begin until May 22 because of the play-in tournament. So the Nets (as well as the 11 other teams that don’t have to “play in”) will have extra time to heal before the post-season begins.
Bruce Brown was again ruled out with right knee soreness and will miss his third-straight game. Nash believes Brown will return to the lineup Sunday against the Bucks.
“All indications are that he’ll play Sunday,” Nash said.
Nicolas Claxton, who will miss his seventh straight game, has rejoined the Nets after a lengthy stint on the league’s health and safety protocols. Nash said Claxton will likely need at least another week to ramp up and get his conditioning back before returning to play.
“Nic is back and working out. He’ll probably need a ramp-up period for him,” Nash said. “Don’t expect to see Nic for at least a week. He’s healthy but he just needs to get his fitness.”
Chris Chiozza remains likely out for the remainder of the regular season with a fractured right hand that required surgery. Chiozza has not played since April 13 against the Timberwolves.
“I’m not sure but I do believe he’ll be out for the remainder of the regular season,” Nash said. “He’s still in a protective device. I don’t think he’ll be in the mix for two weeks or so which is the remainder of the regular season.”
Nash also commented on Blake Griffin, who is available for Friday’s game against the Trail Blazers, to play in his second back-to-back since April 20th.
“Blake will play a back-to-back for a few reasons,” said Nash. “I don’t love him playing back-to-backs. There’s no reason under a normal circumstance. But without Nic Claxton, we tried to limit him last night so he’d be available for tonight and we thought we needed him in both. So we hopefully mitigated some rest there.”
- Kyrie Irving’s return to Nets lineup may not include Kevin Durant - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- No clear answer to when Nets guard James Harden will return from injury - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Steve Nash says he’s ‘not 100% certain’ James Harden will return before the playoffs - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News