NEW YORK – Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said he is concerned about the number of minutes superstar forward Kevin Durant is playing this season, and that the team will have to keep a close eye on him as he navigates through upcoming games with a understaffed and a roster devastated by COVID-19.
“It’s a really big issue,” Nash said before Brooklyn hosted the Philadelphia 76ers at the Barclays Center on Thursday night. “I don’t know that we can continue to lean on him the way we have. He’s not right.
“I know he’s enjoying it. I know he’s enjoying playing at the pace he’s playing and trying to take his teammates with him and all the responsibility he’s accepted. It’s been amazing. But at the same time it’s not safe or sustainable to lean on. in him that way. There will be a lot of consideration and we will have to find ways to give him rest. “
Durant is averaging 36.9 minutes per game this season, the fourth-most in the NBA, behind Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, teammate OG Anunoby and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. That’s the most minutes per game Durant has averaged in eight years, averaging 38.5 minutes per night during the 2013-14 season, when he scored 32 points per game and claimed his only Most Valuable Player award.
The 33-year-old played 48 minutes, the season-high, in Tuesday night’s overtime win against the Raptors at the Barclays Center, finishing with a 34-point triple-double in Brooklyn’s 131st win. -129, the fifth time in 26 games this season that he has eclipsed the 40-minute mark. He did so after being listed as questionable to play Tuesday morning due to a sore right ankle.
“I’m just trying to do what’s required,” Durant said, when asked about his minutes load after Tuesday’s win. “I mean, I want to be there. I want to play. I want to win.
“Whatever I have to do to achieve those three things, I will do it.”
For the Nets, however, the challenge is not just to win now, but to win several months from now, as Brooklyn hopes to make a deep run in the Playoffs as he fights for his first NBA championship.
That will require keeping Durant healthy throughout the season after missing the entire 2019-20 season due to a torn Achilles suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals and playing just 35 regular-season games last session due to Recurring hamstring problems.
Durant has only missed two games so far this season. But with Brooklyn seven players down due to NBA health and safety protocols for a minimum of another week, plus running out of Joe Harris, who is recovering from ankle surgery, and Kyrie Irving, who has yet to play. This season after failing Nash said he needs to balance keeping the Nets afloat during the period when they are understaffed without putting too much pressure on Durant’s body, as per the City’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements. New York.
While Nash said veteran guard Langston Galloway, who the Nets signed with a hardship waiver on Wednesday, was available for Thursday’s game, giving Brooklyn nine available players, Nash admitted that having enough players available to keep playing is a double-edged sword.
“The question is, are we over the threshold, so to speak, which is positive,” Nash said, referring to the NBA’s minimum requirement of having eight healthy players available to play in a game. “At the same time, we are just barely above the threshold. So what about our players?
“Is it better to be above the threshold and not be playing until you have a healthy squad or is it better to have enough to play, but to be understaffed and the burden and the cost these guys have and know that you? guys who haven’t been able to practice or play basketball? So it’s definitely hard to navigate. “
As for Brooklyn’s opponent on Thursday, 76ers coach Doc Rivers said Georges Niang, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, said no one else had tested positive yet. But after going through his own outbreak earlier this season, one that cost superstar center Joel Embiid and second-leading scorer Tobias Harris both, Rivers said the team made a call Wednesday to try to adjust their own protocols on half of COVID-19 spikes around the world. the country, much less in professional sports.
“We probably had all the sports leagues put their brains together at the same time,” Rivers said, adding that he has received calls from other coaches in recent days asking for advice on how to lead losing players to COVID-19. “I know we had a one-on-one call and we talked to our own people about how to make our own changes. We are going to make some of our own changes. We want to be the team with the least. We continue to lead, I think, with the COVID games off. That stretch It was brutal for us and it’s not fun. “