Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant is gearing toward returning from an isolated MCL sprain to his right knee before the All-Star break.
Voted as one of the two captains in the All-Star game, Durant wants to get a few games under his legs before making his 13th appearance in the mid-season classic to be held next month in Utah.
“More than just the All-Star Game, I just want to play as many games as possible. And I feel like the All-Star game is a part of the season, so I want to be a part of everything throughout the year. I hate being injured. I hate not being out there with the guys,” Durant said on his podcast The ETCs.
“So, it’ll be a nice target point for me — a few games before (All-Star break) — get my legs up under me, and then slide into the break back healthy, back on the floor.”
The Nets have nine more games before the All-Star break, beginning Monday night’s matchup against an undermanned Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers have opted to rest LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the front end of a back-to-back schedule. James and Davis will return against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.
Kyrie Irving has been holding the fort for Brooklyn since Durant went down with his second MCL injury for the second consecutive season. Irving is averaging 32.1 points, 7.4 assists, and 5.8 rebounds over his last eight games while shooting 41.6 percent from downtown.
The Nets are 3-5 during that span and 3-6 overall since Durant’s injury.
Irving had 20 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter against the Knicks last Saturday to extend the Nets’ dominance over their across-the-borough rivals to nine straight wins. It was Irving’s fourth 20-point fourth-quarter scoring performance this season.
Irving’s presence, along with their depth and Nic Claxton’s growing games, the Nets are optimistic they can stay afloat until Durant returns.
A second straight win for the 30-19 Nets against the shorthanded Lakers would increase their half-game lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers (31-21) for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Last season, they went 6-15, including 11 straight losses that dropped them from the top of the East to the play-in tournament when Durant sustained an MCL injury to his left knee.
But Durant is upbeat that he will miss fewer games this season.
“Because just from [my experience], I could barely walk out the arena last year when I had [MCL] on my left knee,” Durant explained. “So I just knew my movements were a little better this time. It didn’t feel like it was anything worse than it was.”
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