The Brooklyn Nets will be tested in the next two weeks after the team announced Monday that Kevin Durant’s MRI returned with an isolated MCL sprain of the right knee.
The injury occurred at the 1:05 mark of the third quarter of their win against the Miami Heat Sunday night after Jimmy Butler awkwardly fell into Durant’s right knee following a Ben Simmons’ block.
Durant will be reevaluated in two weeks.
It’s a big blow for the surging Nets, who have won 14 of their last 15 and 18 of their previous 20 games. The 27-13 Nets are sitting second in the Eastern Conference, with Durant averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists while shooting a career-high 55.9 percent from the field.
Brooklyn will have seven games in the next two weeks starting Thursday against their last season playoff tormentor and Eastern Conference leader Boston Celtics (28-12). They will also face the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers during this crucial stretch.
Last season, Durant missed 21 games, and the Nets tumbled from the top of the East and limped to the play-in. Brooklyn went 5-16 without Durant, including a devastating 11 straight losses that contributed to his trade request last summer.
But this time, the Nets appear to be more equipped to withstand Durant’s absence with Kyrie Irving available and a much-improved depth.
Ben Simmons and T.J. Warren are expected to take bigger roles on offense to fill in Durant’s big shoes.
Simmons is averaging a career-low 7.7 points on six field goal attempts this season, while Warren is norming 9.9 points on 53.7 percent field goal shooting in 19.9 minutes off the bench since returning from a left foot injury.
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