On Tuesday, Kevin Durant was listed as questionable with right ankle soreness ahead of the game against Toronto. Later that evening, both James Harden and Bruce Brown entered the health and safety protocols, meaning that the Brooklyn Nets were left with eight active players.
Risking postponement, Durant told Steve Nash that he wanted to play. Leading a roster of four rookies, KD had a 34-point triple-double en route to a 131-129 overtime win. A few hours before the game, Brooklyn wasn’t sure that he’d play … then he was on the floor for 48 minutes.
The situation was the same on Thursday against Philadelphia, except it was never a question if Durant would be playing or not. For the second straight game, KD dropped 34 points and the Nets won, 114-105.
This week, Brooklyn hasn’t had much of a choice but to play Durant. That’s been the case for most of the year, but it’s been specifically magnified in the last few days. Nash has even gone as far as to say that the team’s only option is to lose games if KD rests. However, he backtracked on that take ahead of Thursday’s game against Philly.
Nash is worried about Kevin Durant’s playing time with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets still have more than 50 regular-season games left to play before the playoffs. Durant’s workload has been a talking point for a few weeks, but now it seems as if Nash has accepted the fact that KD can’t continue to average 37 minutes per game, the fourth-most in the NBA.
Brooklyn has been dealt a tough card with seven players in the health and safety protocols, and even after signing a few players to hardship exception contracts, Durant’s going to be headed toward overdrive for the foreseeable future … even if he loves playing this much.
Then again, his performance isn’t letting up, and his past two games have been astounding. In the same week that Steph Curry broke the 3-point record, KD’s proven why he should be the league’s MVP.
He’s playing some of the best basketball of his entire career, and that’s saying something. However, Nash has to be focused on KD’s longevity. Durant’s made it clear that he’d play in all 48 minutes of a game if given the chance, but that isn’t realistic. For Brooklyn to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in June, KD’s going to have to be at his best, which is going to require some load management. We’ve been saying for a while now that Nash needs to be honest with himself about KD’s minutes, and he’s finally starting to get there.
In a perfect world, James Harden will bounce back from the wishy-washy year that he’s had so far. In a more perfect world, Kyrie Irving will return to Brooklyn, too.
Nash doesn’t have control over either one of those things, but in the meantime, he can prioritize Durant’s rest. We’ve loved getting to see KD go off in the fourth quarter of close games, but we’d love to see that happen in the playoffs (at his absolute best) even more.