Kyrie Irving missed Thursday’s game at Indiana with a groin injury, but Nets coach Steve Nash is hopeful his All-Star guard can suit up Friday against the Trail Blazers.
Nash wasn’t so confident Kevin Durant or Bruce Brown would be able to face Portland at Barclays Center, and Blake Griffin’s status was up in the air, too.
“Kyrie we will have to assess as well … but my thinking on that is hopefully Ky feels much better [Friday] and can play,” Nash said. “I’d say my vote would be likely that Kevin does not play the second of a back-to-back.”
Though Irving sat out against the Pacers, his injury doesn’t appear to be overly serious. Durant and Griffin both played in the 130-113 win Thursday, but the Nets have protected both forwards against playing back-to-backs.
“My thought would be that Kevin doesn’t play [versus Portland] and that Blake plays,” Nash said. “I don’t love Blake playing back-to-backs, but we had an eye on this back-to-back knowing that we’re having guys in and out of the lineup. So we definitely tried to protect him tonight so that he can be ready to go [Friday].
“So, not ideal, but he’s played very well for us and it’d be nice to have him on. So we’ll see. Like I said, who knows we wake up [Friday] who’s playing, who’s not playing and we’ll figure it out from there.”
This back-to-back is the 12th of the Nets’ 14 for the season. Durant has played in just one (Jan. 12 and 13), as has Griffin (April 20 and 21).
The Nets managed to hold Griffin to just 13:35 Thursday. But after their 23-point third-quarter lead was cut to 12 in the fourth, Nash was forced to go back to Durant. The star ended up logging 36:21.
“I’m gonna take direction from the coaching staff,” Durant said of playing Friday. “My teammates understand what the situation is, so I’ve just got to be ready for any situation, I feel like. And when I’m out there playing, I like to take it one possession at a time and see what happens.“I had to come back in the fourth, and maybe I could have negotiated it a little bit better if I didn’t have to come back the fourth for next game. But it is what it is. I tried to take it a possession at a time and just trust in what the coaching staff and training staff want me to do.”
Brown missed the entire road trip with sore right knee. Nash had initially said he hoped Brown would be fit by Friday, but Thursday, the coach sounded less bullish.
“I’m not positive on Bruce. I think that’s a game-time decision,” Nash said. “Blake, I’d like to not play him in back-to-backs, but there is a case where if we have some minutes left over from [the Pacers game] for him that he could play a role [Friday] night. But… I think that’s a game-time decision or a decision that we do make [Friday] collectively.”
Nic Claxton was out due to an 11th straight day in health and safety protocols. … James Harden (right hamstring strain), Chris Chiozza (right hand) and Spencer Dinwiddie (right knee) were all out.
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/04/30/kyrie-irvings-nets-return-may-not-include-kevin-durant/ on .