The Brooklyn Nets are once again trying to navigate life without Kevin Durant after the star suffered a sprained MCL last week in what became a win over the Miami Heat.
Since then, the Nets have dropped back-to-back games, first an understandable 109-98 loss to the East-leading Celtics followed by a more concerning 112-102 loss to the Thunder at home. The offense dropping off without KD isn’t a surprise, but it is notable for a team that is best known for its scoring output. Replacing a 30-point scorer is never easy, but with Kyrie Irving still on what most consider an upgraded roster, the hope in Brooklyn was they could at least tread water until Durant gets back in, hopefully, not much more than another week.
After the loss to OKC, Irving was asked about why this year can be different without Durant and he said that their struggles without Durant wasn’t on the mind of the players in the locker room.
"This isn't last year, at all. The comparisons gotta stop. I'll leave it up to you guys to do that, but for us, we don't have any comparisons to last year."
Kyrie Irving talks about the Nets navigating this recent stretch without Kevin Durant: pic.twitter.com/7ozg6WnS2N
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) January 16, 2023
He would also take a crack at James Harden, noting that while having him play every day will help, so will having someone who isn’t “halfway in” in the locker room.
Kyrie on why KD's absence is different this year: "Well I'm consistently in the lineup, that helps. We also don't have anyone who is halfway in in the locker room."
— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) January 16, 2023
Harden rather famously wasn’t happy with the Nets situation last year, pushing his way to Philadelphia in a trade, which was reportedly largely due to Irving‘s absence from home games for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. That disdain is apparently mutual, but Irving will have to back up these comments on the court by leading Brooklyn to some wins with four games coming up this week — starting with the actively tanking Spurs, which should provide a bounceback point for the Nets.