The Nets will be without Kyrie Irving for Saturday’s win-or-go-home Game 7 against the Bucks. Although Irving’s absence was hinted at in various reports, the Nets made it official Friday afternoon.
Irving — who suffered the right ankle sprain against Milwaukee in the Game 4 loss — left the arena in a walking boot and needed crutches for assistance. Instead of traveling with the team to Milwaukee for Game 6, Irving remained in Brooklyn to focus on his rehab, which is progressing, according to Steve Nash.
“Kai is getting treatment but he’s still got some miles to make up. But progressing and sticking to his rehab,” said Nash after Friday’s practice.
The Nets head coach said Irving’s injury is not season-ending, assuming of course the Nets advance.
“I think if we’re able to advance, he’ll be back at some point. I don’t know if that’s in a few days, in a week or beyond, but I think it’s not a season-threatening situation,” Nash said.
James Harden — who played 86 combined in Games 5 and 6 — came out fine after the Nets Game 6 loss Saturday night, said Nash. Harden, who hurt his hamstring in Game 1 and played with visible limits, particularly in Game 5, has had to forge himself into a different player playing on one leg. Despite being nowhere near his MVP caliber self and wearing plenty of kinesiology tape for support, he made an impact in Game 6 with 16 points, seven assists and four steals in 40 minutes of play. Still…
“James is not at 100 percent. He’s got to protect himself … He’s not going to be able to push the ball in transition.”
While the Nets have missed Irving and are adjusting well with Harden on the floor in a limited capacity, the Nets head coach said there’s a great feeling within the group heading into Game 7.
“This is what it is. This is the deck we have. We’re going to solve as many puzzles as we can and we’re also going [to] try and play our hearts out and enjoy the opportunity as we have done all year,” Nash said. “We’ve found ways to persevere and to give ourselves an opportunity when it didn’t look good. For us, inside our group, we feel great. We feel excited for the opportunity.”