Injury bug hits Nets as playoff push intensifies
ATLANTA — Illness and injury has struck the Nets. Again.
After almost three months without a player coming down with COVID-19, Goran Dragic entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols Saturday with a symptomatic form of the virus, the team announced. “He doesn’t feel well, but that’s all I know,” Steve Nash said.
Additionally, Bruce Brown has come down with the flu. Nash is hopeful that he’ll be back for their game against the Rockets Tuesday back in Brooklyn but can’t be certain. Seth Curry, who has been nursing a sore ankle since January, was scratched about 40 minutes before tipoff. Curry previously has said the ankle needs a month of rest to recover, which won't be possible until the offseason. Curry has now missed five games and part of another due to the ankle.
“It's something we've had a lot of experience doing,” Nash said of playing shorthanded. The team lost Kevin Durant for about seven weeks earlier in the season because of an MCL sprain, and Kyrie Irving was just recently allowed to play at home despite his unvaccinated status.
“We will accept the challenge and find other guys to step up and play and carry some of the load,” Nash said. “And we've been here before, so we hope we get all our guys back sooner rather than later. But at the same time, you know, we think we can find a way to win the game regardless.”
The losses couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Nets, who are jostling for position with the play-in tournament looming on the horizon. Going into Saturday’s game, the Nets and Hawks had identical 40-37 records, with the Nets owning the season series — meaning the Nets were eighth and the Hawks were ninth. After losing to the 76ers in a Saturday matinee, the Hornets were half a game behind both teams.
“It's a big game, but all you can do is go try to play your best,” Nash said before tipoff. “I just expect our guys to be focused, go out and play and have fun and enjoy playing games that actually mean something.”