The Brooklyn Nets have been the hottest team in the NBA for the last month, winning 18 of their last 20 games, including a 102-101 win over the Heat in Miami on Sunday night.
Leading the way has been Kevin Durant, who has returned to full blown MVP form, averaging 30.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game on a 60.9 effective field goal percentage — which is absurd considering the majority of his damage coming from the midrange. Durant has been nothing short of sensational for the Nets, which is why Sunday’s win was bittersweet as the likely All-Star captain in the East left the game and did not return with a right knee injury after Jimmy Butler got blocked on a drive and fell backwards into Durant’s leg.
The Nets say that Kevin Durant is OUT for the remainder of Nets-Heat due to a right knee injury after Jimmy Butler fell on his knee on this play.
Prayers up to KD 🙏 pic.twitter.com/v0PPP9Hfe1
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 9, 2023
After the game, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters Durant would likely have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury and a timetable for his return.
Vaughn said Durant will likely get an MRI on Monday.
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) January 9, 2023
The MRI being tomorrow comes as little surprise, but the Nets organization and their fans will be holding their breath until the results come back. Brooklyn’s recent run has gotten them all the way to second in the East at 27-13, one game back of the Boston Celtics. That’s a remarkable turnaround from the early season woes amid plenty of off court drama, but under Vaughn’s guidance, they have settled into a tremendous rhythm and started to look like the contenders they’ve always supposed to have been.
Hopefully the injury is not particularly severe, but the most important thing for Brooklyn is Durant getting healthy for the playoffs, so one would expect them to be fairly cautious with their star whatever the injury turns out to be. Their recent hot streak affords them a cushion to be more cautious with Durant as well, although they’ll now shift more responsibility to Kyrie Irving as well as likely having to alter their rotation to bring more offensive-minded players into a larger role to ease the burden.
From a league-wide perspective, it’s brutal to see another star go down in the midst of an MVP caliber campaign, and hopefully he won’t miss significant time. It does put into question whether Durant will be able to play in the All-Star Game, or if like a year ago he’ll be a captain but have to sit out.