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Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.

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Hopeful Kirilenko plans on returning next week

The Nets' Andrei Kirilenko (47) looks to pass

The Nets' Andrei Kirilenko (47) looks to pass the ball as he is defended by the Orlando Magic defense, including Victor Oladipo (5), during the first half. (Nov. 3, 2013) (Credit: AP)

The Nets may get a welcomed gift when Christmas rolls around next week.

Andrei Kirilenko said before Monday’s game against the 76ers that he’s hopeful he’ll return to action prior to the Nets' six-day road trip that will take them from Indiana to San Antonio to Oklahoma City. Kirilenko has missed the Nets’ last 19 games, shelved by back spasms since their Nov. 8 matchup versus the Wizards in Washington.

It’s something he’s dealt with previously in his career, but it’s never been like this.

“Yeah, this is definitely the worst one with the back,” Kirilenko said, sitting at his locker. “I have had those kind of injuries before in the past, and usually it takes like seven, 10 days max. But this time, I’ve had three times of setbacks, and so it’s the main reason why I’m kind of waiting longer, and why the doctors and trainers, why they kind of pull you back a little bit. They don’t want you to rush again and get in a situation where I will have a setback again.”

So Kirilenko, who received an injection in his back last month to help alleviate the pain, cautioned there’s no specific timetable for him to slide back into the mix. However, he seemed optimistic it’s going to happen before the end of the calendar year.

“Right now, it’s just a matter of getting into shape,” Kirilenko said, “getting rhythm, getting into basketball stuff. Even tonight, I’m hoping to get some shots up [in pregame]. I’ve got begin to get some movement to kind of speed it up. Not to speed it up recovery-wise, but speed it up moving and getting into the right rhythm.

“It’s very tough to give you an exact date. As I said before, 10 days, two weeks, seven days, five days. Right now, I’m taking every day and really improving and moving and improving. As soon as I can really get to a full court and full speed workout ... Right away, I think if I’m ready to play in a practice, I’m going to be ready to play in a game.”

After Monday’s game, the Nets play four of their next five in the friendly confines of the Barclays Center, their lone road matchup coming against the 76ers in Philadelphia Friday night. They have a Christmas date with the Bulls and host the Bucks on Dec. 27.

The Nets also have a rough stretch on tap at the end of the month that’ll have them going from the midwest to the southwest, and Kirilenko left little doubt what his intentions are.

“I’m planning to play before that,” said Kirilenko, who also missed part of the preseason nursing the spasms. “I’m planning. But again, we don’t know how it will go. But I definitely should be ready for one of those home games we have around Christmas time.”

Kirilenko described the frustrating path he’s been on these last five-plus weeks, pointing out the troubles he’s had on each occasion he neared a full-blown return.

“My first setback was right in the preseason,” Kirilenko said. “Then like 10 days after treatment, it feels great. Start practicing and it feels great. I’m moving right, dunking, jump shooting. I start five-on-five and at some point, just felt a ‘pffft’ and I tweaked it again. Then it’s like another 10 days, feels good, get back and started playing games, after four games [of the season] ‘pffft’ again. So, I think it’s very important when I get back, kind of maintain the first couple of weeks. That’s the most important thing for me right now.

“When I’m healthy, when I feel good with a rhythm, stay right there and kind of maintain it. Right now, I feel good, so it’s important that every day, I kind of monitor this and if it feel like there’s any kind of tiredness or any kind of different feelings, I have to be careful.”

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