NEW YORK – The Brooklyn Nets’ Big 3 was down to just one, Kevin Durant, for a pivotal Game 5 of their second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
Kyrie Irving has been ruled out of the game at Barclays Center after an MRI confirmed he sprained his right ankle in Game 4. James Harden, who injured his hamstring in Game 1, also remains out.
Coach Steve Nash said he “has no idea” if Irving will be available to play later in this series, which is tied at 2 after back-to-back Bucks wins.
“I think I have to wait and see how he progresses,” Nash said. “And then the experts would have to wait and see how it progresses and give you a clearer idea of what the window would be for its return.”
Irving was injured midway through the second quarter Sunday when he awkwardly landed on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot after hitting Jrue Holiday.
Nash said that while he didn’t want to predict Antetokounmpo’s intentions on the play, he seemed “uncomfortable.”
“I know he ended up below Kyrie while he was in the air,” Nash explained. “I think it would be a huge exaggeration for me to sit here and say that he intended to do that in some way. I don’t think that’s the type of person he is, nor is that what I think happened. It was awkward and unfortunate.” .
Irving remained on the ground for several minutes while Nash and the team’s athletic trainers tended to him. Irving walked to the locker room without help, but was limping.
Without Irving, the Bucks were able to tie the series.
Nash said Harden, who has been sidelined since June 5, was training while speaking to reporters Monday. On Sunday, Nash clarified that the team would try to address the injuries as isolated incidents and would not allow Irving’s sprained ankle to push Harden back onto the floor sooner than anticipated.
The Nets have battled injuries all season. Durant has played in five games this season without Harden and Irving. In those games, he averaged nearly 34 points per game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Shot a 63% percentage.
“I have to be prepared to do whatever is out there like any night,” Durant said Monday.
The Nets won four of the five games in which Durant was the only member of the Big 3 to play. Brooklyn won those games by an average of 9.4 points.
“We definitely weren’t planning on not having our guys right now,” Durant said. “But, we are all professionals and we have to adapt to any situation … In the fifth game of a series, it’s like, okay, let’s play. So, I think we all have that mentality and we move on,” he said.