For a stretch of about five games, Nets star Kevin Durant showed signs of pain in his right shoulder, but he consistently maintained he was all right and it was not impacting his play. But reality caught up with him Friday night at Barclays Center when the team seized the opportunity to rest him to effectively give him four full days off before the next game Monday night in Cleveland.
"I just think it has been bugging him a little bit and finding time for him to rest is difficult," Nets coach Steve Nash said of Durant’s injury, which is listed as a sprain. "Coming out of a back-to-back [on Tuesday and Wednesday], the shoulder lingering and him having a four-day break here for the shoulder is just an opportunity we thought was positive for us.
"Unfortunately, it hurts the team for tonight, but in the long run, it could help us. Those are the decisions you have to make."
Durant is second in NBA scoring at 28.6 points per game and has been carrying the Nets in the seasonlong absence of Kyrie Irving, who is ineligible to play in New York because he is not in compliance with the city vaccine mandate and has been ruled out on the road because the Nets don’t want him to be a part-time player.
Asked if Durant has been overburdened, Nash said: "Not really. I think we always are careful there. We’ve had a few games recently where he didn’t play the fourth quarter. I think we’ve saved some minutes here and there. The shoulder is not something we want to linger, so I think that was an opportunity we took.
"We don’t feel concerned that it’ll linger or that he’d miss the next game. So there were multiple factors that made it attractive for us to choose this game for him to sit."