The Brooklyn Nets knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers by a 122-109 margin at Barclays Center on Thursday evening and, under normal circumstances, that result wouldn’t turn heads in the NBA world. However, the Nets operated without both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the game and received 28 points off the bench from Joe Harris to aid in pulling off the upset. The Durant absence was known as he remains in the league’s health and safety protocols, but just hours before tip-off word broke that Irving was not playing due to what the team listed as personal reasons.
After the win, a report from Joe Vardon of The Athletic states that the All-NBA point guard is not expected to join the Nets on their road trip to Memphis for their game on Friday.
Kyrie Irving is not expected to join the Nets on their flight to Memphis tonight, per a source. ‘He’s not coming’ is what I was told. BKN plays the Grizzlies Friday @TheAthleticNBA
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) January 8, 2021
The team confirmed the news shortly after Vardon’s report.
Kyrie Irving will not fly with the Nets to Memphis tonight, a team spokesperson says.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) January 8, 2021
Nets head coach Steve Nash expressed before Thursday’s game that he had not spoken to Irving and was unaware of the reasoning behind his absence. First and foremost, there is the hope that everything is alright with Irving and his family at this time, and even with curiousness around the reasoning, it is important to keep that in mind.
On the basketball side, Durant remains out due to health and safety protocols and, despite the positive result on Thursday, the Nets are not in an ideal position to operate without both stars. Irving is off to a strong statistical start, averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game, and Durant looks to be close to his old self after missing a year with an Achilles injury. Standout guard Spencer Dinwiddie is also out with a long-term injury, and the Nets are constructed, at least in part, to support the talents of their top two players.
That said, Brooklyn will face a Memphis team that is also short-handed on Friday without Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and others. From there, the Nets return home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday in their follow-up contest.