The Nets’ depth got put to the test Monday, with not only Spencer Dinwiddie out with a partially torn right ACL, but stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sitting the second night of a back-to-back.
Durant went 18 months without playing after rupturing his Achilles in June 2019. Irving made just 20 appearances last season due to shoulder surgery. They have been stellar so far this season, but both logged 36:21 Sunday in Charlotte.
The Nets announced Durant was sitting, and two hours later said the same of Irving. But coach Steve Nash said the former didn’t impact the latter.
“I don’t think so. If I’m not mistaken with Kevin, we sort of had a consensus late by the time we landed,” Nash said before the Nets’ 116-11 overtime loss to the Grizzlies. “With Ky it was maybe more this morning. But I don’t think it was anything about sitting them both. I would’ve been more than happy and totally open for one of them to play tonight. It was just a matter of talking to them and making the safest long-term decision.”
Both Nash and Durant have said the eventual test is to get him to the point he can play back-to-backs, or three games in four nights.
“Yeah, I mean, we’re open,” Nash said. “Last night, he played a lot of minutes, and we were playing from behind. He had a pretty heavy load and demand, metrics, so we just wanted to be careful. That’s the biggest output he’s had in 18 months, so we just want to be careful and protect him and protect us from any negative consequences of him playing too much out of the gates.”
Long term, Nash also has to figure how the loss of Dinwiddie impacts his starting lineup, and trickles down to the rest of the rotation.
For Monday it included putting Caris LeVert (28 points, 11 assists) back in the starting lineup, along with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (21 points) and Taurean Prince (nine points, five rebounds).
“Filling [Dinwiddie’s] spot in the rotation is … on the one hand it’s difficult because he has such a unique profile: A lot of athleticism and versatility,” Nash said. “On the other hand, we have depth. So we’ll see. I don’t have necessarily a formula for you yet. But we have depth and we have guys that we’re confident in that can fill those minutes.”
LeVert had been thriving in a sixth-man role, separated from high-usage rate players like Durant and Irving. But with Dinwiddie gone, he was tasked with running the point. Prince was the power forward last season with Durant out.
The other perimeter spot is intriguing, since Irving will be back. Landry Shamet was 0-for-9 Sunday, and 0-for-8 from deep with three turnovers. Luwawu-Cabarrot was rewarded for scoring 11 points and going 4 of 4 overall, 3 of 3 from 3.
Sunday’s Nets-Charlotte tilt was YES’ most-viewed regular season Nets telecast in six years, at 150,000 average Total Viewers. It also beat MSG’s 125,000 for its Knicks game the same night.
Through three games (on TNT, ABC & YES), the Nets averaged 340,667 viewers/game, while the first three Knicks tilts (all on MSG) averaged 146,667 viewers/game.
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