Brooklyn Nets: How will Kevin Durant be managed for rest of season?

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets lost James Harden due to the dreaded hamstring strain, but they’re getting back a key piece for their championship run.

Kevin Durant will be available for Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Even without Durant, the Nets were able to surge ahead in the Eastern Conference standings. The Nets went 19-4 while Durant was sidelined with a hamstring strain of his own.

As of April 7, the Nets are tied for first with the 76ers with a 35-16 record and now get to add arguably the best player in the league back into their lineup.

What should Nets fans expect from Kevin Durant for the rest of the year?

Unfortunately, Durant has been in and out of the lineup all season, so we have a small sample size on how head coach Steve Nash implements Durant back into the Nets lineup. Durant had two separate three-game layoffs due to the NBA health & safety protocols this season. In his return,  he had at least 37 mins and 33 mins of game action, respectively.

However, this is the first time Durant is returning from injury since playing in the season opener against the Golden State Warriors. In the first game of the season, in his first game back from his Achilles tear, he played only 25 mins in what ended up being a blowout victory over his former team.

The Nets are no doubt going to be conservative with the star player’s health. They’ve been doing it with just about everyone … except Harden. That was further evidenced by Nash resting Blake Griffin on the second game of a back to back on two separate occasions this year. Kyrie Irving has gotten plenty of rest this year, too.

Looking at Durant’s past injuries, expect Nash and the Nets organization to slowly ramp him back up. Don’t be surprised if there’s a minutes restriction in his first game back, even with Harden out of action. Durant will likely be resting on most of the back to backs and the Nets will be relying on Irving now more than ever.

The most important thing for the Nets moving forward is to get (and stay) healthy before the playoffs start in late May. In a perfect world, the Big 3 would play more often to build chemistry, but given how talented this crew is, staying healthy takes precedent, especially since they’ll get ample time to bond when they beat down on the first two playoff opponents.