Nets All-Star forward Kevin Durant remains out for Thursday’s scheduled bout against the Magic, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Durant has suited up for just three games this month, having missed action both as a result of COVID-19 health and safety protocols and – more recently – a left hamstring strain.
Versatile Nets forward Jeff Green will join Durant on the sidelines tonight for a second straight game, as he continues to recover from a shoulder contusion, Andrews mentions in a separate tweet. Guard Landry Shamet is questionable with a chest contusion, Andrews adds. Small forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, listed as questionable yesterday, is now available for tonight, Andrews tweets.
All these absences haven’t slowed down Brooklyn so far: the team is currently riding a season-high seven-game win streak. Of course, the fact that the Nets still have two other All-Stars available in James Harden and Kyrie Irving has helped them weather the storm of other rotation player absences.
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- The frontcourt-depleted Nets have found success in using athletic 6’4″ guard Bruce Brown as a de facto center in some lineups, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “The guy mostly played point guard last year, and he’s playing — what do you want to call him?” head coach Steve Nash wondered. “Our center? He’s picking and rolling and finishing with two bigs in the lane. His willingness and ability to do that is remarkable.”
- Blake Murphy of The Athletic wonders whether adding a more effective traditional center than Aron Baynes is the most crucial roster need for the Raptors, should they be buyers at next month’s trade deadline. The team has thrived in small-ball lineups, and could possibly maximize trade leverage by being receptive to adding wings and forwards as well as a center, Murphy opines. What team president Masai Ujiri, himself a potential free agent this summer, decides to do remains in flux. The team is apparently open to sending longtime point guard Kyle Lowry to a contender. Toronto’s 16-17 record currently has the club slotted as a solid-but-unspectacular No. 5 seed in the East, but there is significant parity beneath the conference’s three best teams. Only 4.5 games separate the fourth-seeded Pacers from the current No. 14 seed, the Cavaliers.
- Though Celtics team president Danny Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck both appear open to waiting until as late as the 2021 offseason to exercise the $28.5MM traded player exception they acquired in exchange for now-Hornets forward Gordon Hayward in 2020, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston cautions that such an approach could be risky.