Kevin Durant Closes in on Brooklyn Nets Return

Kevin Durant is closing in on his return after missing Brooklyn’s last 21 games due to a hamstring strain, and before Thursday night’s 111-89 win against Charlotte, he discussed his ongoing progress.

“It was more so about running up and down the floor as opposed to having five guys out there,” said Durant. “So 4-on-4 simulates the same type of thing. So it was good to get some of that stuff in, transitioning from offense to defense, stuff I haven't done in a couple of weeks. It's good to get a few of those sessions in before I want to jump into an NBA game, and I think that's what we've been doing the last few days and what we're gonna do going forward.”

Nets head coach Steve Nash said it is unlikely though that Durant would play in either of Brooklyn’s next two games — a back-to-back set on Sunday and Monday against the Bulls and Knicks. Brooklyn’s next game after that is Wednesday against the Pelicans.

“As far as what we need to see from him to return to play, the performance team, they have their markers,” said Nash. “There’s a certain amount of high intensity loads and full-court activity that he has to be able to get through not only without incident or without issues the next day, but also just the cumulative build up of those loads. So, that is something he's in the middle of right now and hopefully if he can do that without any setbacks, there will the time where can re-enter. So, he's progressing in the right manner and we're hopeful it wont be too long.”

Durant last played in a 134-117 win at Golden State on Feb. 13, scoring 20 points with six assists and five rebounds. He had missed the previous three games due to health and safety protocols.

The win in Golden State was the second of eight straight wins for the Nets, who have extended that into a 20-3 stretch that has lifted them into first place in the Eastern Conference with a 34-15 record.

“I was playing solid before I got injured,” said Durant. “And we were just starting to – I felt like we were just starting to figure each other out. James (Harden), Kyrie (Irving), myself, and different lineups out there on the floor. I felt like we were starting to gain our rhythm. Even though I was out a week before that with protocols. But I felt like our team was gaining more chemistry then. And that's more so what I’m concerned about. How I play, I figure that out over time whenever I get out there, whatever position coach puts me in, I'm looking forward to trying to conquer that as best as I can. But the chemistry of the team is something that I kept an eye on and tried to help when I've been away; guys have been doing amazing job.”

In 19 games this season, Durant has averaged 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists, shooting 52.4 percent oveall and 43.4 percent from 3-point range. He was selected for his 11th All-Star Game and ninth start, but was unable to play due to the hamstring injury. As the leading vote getter from the Eastern Conference, he was still one of the game’s two captains along with LeBron James and took part in the All-Star draft, selecting both Irving and Harden for Team Durant.

While Durant has been out, the Nets have added two key pieces in veterans Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. Griffin has made an all-around impact through five games before missing Thursday’s win, while Aldridge made a strong Brooklyn debut against the Hornets with 11 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

“I know what these guys do, what their skill sets are, and I’m excited that Blake is out there playing,” said Durant. “When he first got here, he was ramping up after being away from the game for three or four weeks before that. So it’s good to see him get back in the rhythm and LaMarcus the same thing. I know they’re going to play smart basketball and be great teammates, and that’s pretty much all you can expect.”