Sam’s injury, but hopefully a different story for the Brooklyn Nets and star Kevin Durant.
Durant left the Nets win over Miami on Sunday with what has been since diagnosed as a right MCL sprain. It’s the same injury he suffered less than a year ago, one the kept him sidelined for over a month and is largely cited as one of the reasons Brooklyn’s season went off the rails.
There are obviously many other notable factors that caused chaos for the Nets last season, but losing the best player on the roster certainly didn’t help matters. Zooming out, Durant’s injury last year served as the personification of the failed experiment in Brooklyn, as the Durant-Harden-Kyrie core broke up and never came close to living up to the lofty expectations set forth before it.
But the Nets are hoping things are different this time, as the same injury seems to be less serious than it was a year ago.
Kevin Durant injury update (Updated January 12th)
There’s no way to sugarcoat it; while the Nets are optimistic about the timeline for his return to the lineup, Durant’s injury is significant. His season isn’t over, but Brooklyn will have to navigate choppy waters in the Eastern Conference without him for hte foreseeable future.
On that timeline, Durant missed six weeks with the same injury last season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Brooklyn is expecting him back a few weeks sooner this time. The team is still planning on being without Durant for at least a month, though, which means the two extra weeks he missed in 2021-22 with a right MCL sprain is the difference.
This means, however, that Durant will miss tonight’s game against the Celtics and the next stretch as well.
Brooklyn holds the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed but has just a half-game of breathing room between the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston has a two-game lead on the Nets, and will likely strengthen its hold on the top spot unless the Nets are able to avoid a stepback without Durant and the Bucks don’t surge in the interim.
How Brooklyn looks against the best team in the league tonight will be telling about how the road ahead will go. Kyrie Irving instantly steps into the lead role, but the onus will be placed on Brooklyn’s depth to make up for the lost minutes and production of Durant as he rests for what is hopefully a push toward a top spot in the playoffs once he returns in mid-to-late February.