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Regular-season injuries may pay off in long run for Nets as playoffs begin

Nets forward Blake Griffin, guard Kyrie Irving, forward

Nets forward Blake Griffin, guard Kyrie Irving, forward Kevin Durant and guard Mike James slap five against the Cavaliers in the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Despite all the focus on their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets rank as favorites to win the NBA title because of the sum of their considerable number of veteran parts in the supporting cast. That includes 13-year veteran forward Jeff Green, who averaged 11 points and 3.9 rebounds, shooting a career-best 41.2% from three-point range and playing a major leadership role.

Describing the hard road the Nets traveled to get the No. 2 Eastern Conference seed and position themselves to face the winner of Tuesday night’s play-in game between the Celtics and Wizards, Green suggested all the injuries that led to 37 different lineups will help in the long run.

"It definitely helped us in a way of knowing what everybody brings to the table, different lineups that we were able to play with," Green said. "It gave us a confidence boost in trusting a lot of guys in different situations. It was good we were able to go through it, but we’re also glad we’ve got everybody healthy now."

Blake Griffin recently noted how several veterans made sacrifices to join the Nets and their All-Star cast, and Green agreed. "It’s amazing," Green said. "Like Blake said, we all in some way, shape or form sacrificed to compete for a championship, to be in the position that we’re in. We finished strong, second place, not too bad for the season that we had…We know it’s all going to pay off at the end of the road. This is what we all sacrificed for."

Notes and quotes – Coach Steve Nash said Joe Harris, who missed the final three games with a sore hip, took part in Tuesday’s half-speed practice and will be ready to go when the first round begins on Saturday. "Dare I say we’re almost at full availability?" Nash said. "Joe is feeling better and did his shooting today, and everyone else participated as well."

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