The Brooklyn Nets will have 3 days off before resuming their schedule Thursday night and they are getting healthy for the stretch.
It was a wild ride for the Brooklyn Nets in the first half of the season — which was actually more than two-thirds of a season.
The Nets are 30-29 at the All-Star break, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, after a tumultuous first four months to the season during which Brooklyn dealt with more than their fair share of injuries.
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All but the most fortunate of teams will deal with injury setbacks over the course of the NBA’s 82-game regular season grind. The Nets have not, in fact, been one of the most fortunate of teams.
Only four of their 14 players on full contracts made it through the first half of the schedule without missing time with some sort of physical malady. Those issues went from simple illnesses to major injuries that cost multiple months of the schedule.
No Net has played in all 59 games the team has played. The last of the team’s iron men, Spencer Dinwiddie, appeared in Brooklyn’s first 49 games before going down in late January with torn ligaments in his right thumb.
The situation has been so acute that the total number of games thus far this season in which the Nets have had their full complement of players healthy and available is … zero.
From opening night on, Brooklyn has had someone on the shelf recovering from some sort of malady.
There have been lows — an eight-game losing steak to close November and open December that left the Nets looking like anything but a playoff team at 8-18.
There have been highs — a seven-game winning streak on the heels of the eight-game stretch that sparked a run of 33 games in which Brooklyn averaged two wins out of every three games heading into the All-Star break.
The Nets won 22 of their last 33 games leading into All-Star Weekend, a stretch that could have been more impressive had Brooklyn not dropped six of their last 10 games after Dinwiddie exited the rotation for thumb surgery.
The injuries have been relentless, but the Nets survived with some grit, a closely knit group of players that genuinely seem to enjoy playing with and being around one another and an embodiment of the often-cliche “next man up” philosophy.
The truth is that the Nets have been scrambling to fill voids all season and have gotten very good at doing so.
Because their injury litany over the season could have demolished a lot of teams:
- Allen Crabbe missed the opener recovering from a sprained ankle.
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson missed the opener still recovering from a strained adductor sustained during a summer exhibition game in China before sitting out the next two games after the birth of his son.
- Shabazz Napier missed the first three games recovering from a hamstring injury.
- Two-way player Alan Williams sat out the first three games dealing with a sprained ankle.
- DeMarre Carroll was out for the first 11 games while recovering from an arthroscopic procedure on his right ankle.
- Treveon Graham injured a hamstring in Brooklyn’s second game of the season and would be sidelined 37 games, as well as a one-game rehab assignment to the Nets’ NBA G League affiliate in Uniondale, before returning Jan. 4.
- Rookie Rodions Kurucs sat five games with a sprained ankle sustained in the team’s third game of the year.
- Former Net Kenneth Faried didn’t dress for game No. 5 because of illness.
- Jarrett Allen missed two games (Nos. 14 and 15) with an illness.
- Caris LeVert dislocated his right foot in the team’s 14th game and was out for the next 42, returning on Feb. 8.
- Hollis-Jefferson missed the Nets’ 16th game with a sprained ankle.
- Joe Harris sat out three games (Nos. 23-25) with tightness in an adductor muscle.
- Crabbe banged his right knee on the floor during the Nets’ 29th game and would be sidelined for the next 27 before finally returning on Feb. 6.
- First-round pick Dzanan Musa partially dislocated his left shoulder during a G-League game with the Long Island Nets on Dec. 16 and would be sidelined for 20 games.
- Hollis-Jefferson strained his right adductor — the one he didn’t injure over the summer — in Game No. 38 and would be out for the next seven games.
- Carroll rested a sore knee in the 42nd game of the season.
- Harris missed the same game as Carroll with a sprained ankle.
- Jared Dudley strained a hamstring in the 43rd game of the year and has yet to return, missing the last 16 games up to the All-Star break.
- Napier was held out of Game No. 45 with a tight hamstring.
- Dinwiddie missed the last 10 games before the break with his thumb injury.
- Graham was held out of Game No. 51 with lower back soreness.
- Harris was sidelined for Game No. 55 with a sore hip.
- Carroll did not play in Game No. 58 because of a sore knee.
- Kurucs was held out of the final game before the break at Cleveland with a sprained left elbow.
So the tally on missed games due to injury/illness in the first half reads like the team mascot could be “In Absentia”:
- LeVert — 42 games
- Graham — 39 games (38 for injury, 1 for personal reasons)
- Crabbe — 27 games
- Musa — 20 games
- Dudley — 16 games
- Carroll — 13 games
- Hollis-Jefferson — 11 games (9 for injury, 2 for personal reasons)
- Dinwiddie — 10 games
- Kurucs — 6 games
- Harris — 5 games
- Napier — 4 games
- Allen — 2 games
There is good news on the injury front. Dudley tweeted Sunday the the plan is for him to return against the Portland Trail Blazers when Brooklyn resumes play on Thursday.
Dinwiddie, meanwhile, should return sometime in early March to assist during Brooklyn’s grueling seven-game road trip gauntlet through Oklahoma City, Utah, both Los Angeles teams, Sacramento, Portland and Philadelphia.
Heck, if things keep going like this, the Nets may soon have a game where their injury report simply reads “all players available.”
That would be a nice change of pace.