BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Brooklyn has lost back-to-back games since Kevin Durant sprained the MCL in his right knee, but it’s not time for anyone to panic, least of all the other players on the Nets’ roster.
Durant is expected back in about three weeks, and role players like Joe Harris, Seth Curry and TJ Warren will look to step up in both workload and productivity in his absence.
“There’s worse times to suffer an injury like this that doesn’t seem like it’s going to impact the long-term outlook of the season for the Nets,” said Locked On Nets co-host Adam Armbrecht in a Monday appearance on the Locked On NBA podcast. “This is not what you call a one-to-one. … Really it’s about the sum of the parts when you talk about the supporting cast.”
Curry scored 23 off the bench in a loss to the Thunder over the weekend, while Warren poured in 20 in a reserve role in a loss to Boston three nights prior. But more pressing than individual stat lines for Brooklyn is that both performances came in losses, and the Nets will hope to avoid losing ground in the Eastern Conference while Durant’s knee heals.
Durant’s co-stars in Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, will need to do more, Armbrecht said, but they will both need to play within themselves rather than going outside their comfort zones in an attempt to replace Durant’s MVP-caliber production.
“The balancing act for Kyrie is not to go ‘hero ball,’ (but) let the game come to you, trust the supporting cast, and we’ve seen some good samples already with that,” Armbrecht told Locked On NBA host Jackson Gatlin.
“For Ben Simmons, it’s different. … There are moments in games (where) if he’s just a little more aggressive and looks to attack, he will be rewarded with that. We want him to take the next step, but I don’t know if you want to demand it right now in the absence of Kevin Durant, because it can lead to potentially more detrimental play from him.”
Simmons was scoreless against Boston and did not dress against Oklahoma City, meaning his resurgence might be the biggest key to Brooklyn’s success without Durant.