While the Nets would surely prefer to have Kevin Durant on the court, the timing of his knee injury may have been fortuitous for the team. Durant should be back in action well before the playoffs, and in the short term, the team is playing 11 of 14 games on the road, allowing Kyrie Irving to be available most of the time. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes, Irving is welcoming the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities until Durant returns.
“I like the pressure,” Irving said after Wednesday’s win over Washington. “I love pressure. It brings out the best in me personally. And then also I’m able to carry that energy with the team whether it be communicating with guys in short conversations on the floor or off the floor.
“Just trying to demand a responsibility from all of us, from myself first, but from all of us, that this isn’t going to be perfect. It’s not going to ever look perfect. This is just what we have, and we can’t replace anybody that’s out. But what we can do is fill up the stat sheet with the little things that may show up and things that may not show up. We’ll see where we are at the end of the game when we leave it all out there playing hard.”
The first two games on Brooklyn’s current road trip have been Irving’s best of the season so far. Without Durant available, the veteran point guard averaged 28.5 PPG, 8.0 APG, and 5.0 RPG in 37.8 MPG in Cleveland and Washington.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- After playing just 12 total minutes in the Nets’ first 27 games this season, rookie Kessler Edwards has become a regular part of the rotation recently, starting the last five games and averaging 32.7 MPG during that stretch. Brian Lewis of The New York Post explores how Edwards is making the most of his opportunity. Since he’s on a two-way contract, Edwards won’t be eligible to play for Brooklyn during the postseason unless he’s promoted to the 15-man roster at some point.
- In a story for The Athletic, Alex Schiffer and John Hollinger weighed the Nets’ trade options, considered some potential targets on the buyout market, and took an early look at the team’s free agency situation. The Athletic’s duo believes it could be a pretty quiet deadline for Brooklyn, since the team doesn’t have many expendable trade chips that could be move without sacrificing depth.
- In case you missed it, the NBA announced earlier today that Irving has been fined $25K for an incident that occurred during Monday’s game in Cleveland. We have the full story here.