Nets coach Steve Nash expects Kevin Durant to return this week
MILWAUKEE — Kevin Durant should be back on the court sometime this week.
So said Nets coach Steve Nash after Durant joined the team in a high-intensity workout at Marquette University on Saturday.
"Every day he’s closer," Nash told reporters at the team’s morning shootaround. "We’ll see. I expect [this] week he’ll be back for sure. It could be quick. It could be the whole week barring setbacks."
After Saturday’s game in Milwaukee, the Nets will host Toronto on Monday, play in Toronto on Tuesday and host Miami on Thursday.
The sooner Durant returns, the better for the Nets. Since he sprained the MCL in his left knee on Jan. 15, they had lost 14 of 19 games, falling from first place to eighth in the Eastern Conference,. That means if the playoffs started today, the Nets would be forced to participate in the play-in tournament in order to secure a spot in the postseason.
With only 22 games left heading into Saturday night, there had been conjecture that Durant would try to come back for the Milwaukee game. Nash said, however, that this game was really never under discussion. He said the Nets would like Durant to get a few more high-intensity workouts, which he defined as playing either halfcourt or fullcourt games with the Nets’ stay-ready group.
"We’ll see how he comes out of it," Nash said when asked how many high-intensity workouts Durant needs to be ready to return. "It could be four, five. It was a little more serious injury."
There is no denying the sense of urgency the Nets must feel as they attempt to rebound from all the drama and injuries that have marked their first four months of the season.
Nets fans got good news Saturday as Goran Dragic, the point guard they signed last week, scored six points and had three rebounds and two assists in 14:19 minutes in the 126-123 Nets victory over the Bucks.
The Nets are waiting for Ben Simmons, whom they acquired in the James Harden trade, to get into game shape. Simmons, who hasn’t played a game this season, has said he will be ready by the time the Nets play his former team, the 76ers, on March 10. However, Joe Harris, who injured his ankle early in the season, won’t be back anytime soon.
The Nets also continue to be hampered by Kyrie Irving’s unavailability for games in New York or in Toronto because of mandates governing his unvaccinated status.
Even the newest members of the team realize that the clock is ticking and this team has to come together fast.
"Alert level is high because it’s only 22 games left," Dragic said. "We’re at that point of the season that you have a lot of new guys. You try to bring those guys in and try to create that chemistry, team chemistry. A lot of guys are injured, too, so when we get everybody back, it’s going to be much easier. But no excuses; we have to play well with the guys that we have right now, tonight, and try to get this win."
When asked how long it takes to develop team chemistry, Andre Drummond said, "Yeah, you know, with the situations I’ve been in, it can take anywhere from an entire season to a few weeks. But I don’t think we have that luxury to wait. So I think Steve has done a great job of taking our practice times to really get us all together on the same floor and just try to build that chemistry."