Although he’s not ruling out the possibility that Nets guard Kyrie Irving will be available for Game 5 vs. the Bucks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link) suggested during a KJZ appearance on Monday morning that the team is bracing for Irving to miss at least that game, if not more, after spraining his ankle on Sunday.
With Irving and James Harden (hamstring) both potentially sidelined, the alarm bells are blaring for the Nets, who now find themselves in a 2-2 tie with Milwaukee, writes Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. As Vaccaro notes, even if Irving and Harden are able to play again in this series, there’s no guarantee they’d be 100%, and ankle and hamstring injuries are easy to tweak.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- If Irving and Harden are out, Kevin Durant will bear the burden of trying to carry the Nets into the next round, as Ian O’Connor of The New York Post and Joe Vardon of The Athletic write in separate stories. Vardon compares the situation to LeBron James having to shoulder the load for the 2015 Cavaliers after Irving and Kevin Love went down with injuries.
- The Nets at least got some good injury news prior to Game 4 on Sunday when forward Jeff Green was cleared to return. However, head coach Steve Nash admitted after the game that he ended up having to play Green more than he anticipated — and more than he would’ve liked. “I think (with) Kyrie going down, we used his versatility to try different things,” Nash said of Green, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’m proud of him for playing. He wasn’t supposed to play today — a couple days ago. For him to ratchet it up and get out there was great.”
- In a span of days, the Nets went from overwhelming title favorites to being in real danger of elimination in the second round, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who says that Brooklyn is the latest club to “ram home” the point that winning a title in the NBA is extremely difficult.
- The Nets and Bucks had differing views on P.J. Tucker‘s defense on Durant after Game 4, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. Nash referred to Tucker’s approach as “borderline non-basketball physical at times,” prompting Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer to respond, “He’s just guarding him. If that’s not basketball, I don’t know what is.”