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Kevin Durant can return to Nets practice Friday

Kevin Durant of the Nets dunks the ball

Kevin Durant of the Nets dunks the ball during the second quarter against the Heat at Barclays Center on Jan. 25. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Nets’ game against the Pacers Wednesday night at Barclays Center was their third straight without Kevin Durant since he was sidelined for a seven-day quarantine period as a result of his exposure to a Nets employee who tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday. Durant actually was pulled in the third quarter of a loss to the Raptors that night before sitting out losses in Philadelphia and Detroit.

Durant can return to practice this Friday provided he continues to test negative, and he will accompany the Nets on a five-game West Coast trip that begins with a nationally televised game Saturday at Golden State, where he helped them win two straight NBA titles and reach another Finals before he joined the Nets in free agency in 2019.

Describing the impact of Durant’s absence, Nash said, "He’s obviously one of the best players in the game, even in the history of the game. But for our team, I think he gives us confidence. I think he gives us size, which we lack without him, and even with him, we’re a small team.

"I think the guys look to him, so there’s that leadership component as well. He brings a lot to the table. Whether he has the ball in his hands or doesn’t, he’s an important part of what we’re trying to do."

Against the Pistons on Tuesday night, Nash started Jeff Green at Durant’s power forward spot alongside center DeAndre Jordan, but he switched Green to the second unit at halftime so he could fill a small-ball center role because of the lack of size without Durant.

"If he starts and also plays on the second unit, that’s too many minutes for him," Nash said. "We know he’s in our closing unit, so to adjust and bring him off the bench was to enable him to be the [center] on the second unit. Especially without Kevin, we don’t have a ton of options there."

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