Kevin Durant is finally making his long-awaited return to the court Wednesday night.
The Brooklyn star has missed 23 straight games with a left hamstring strain, but the Nets have cleared him to play against New Orleans at Barclays Center.
“Huge for us,” guard Bruce Brown said. “We’re happy to see him back and healthy. It’s gonna be good to see him out back on the floor, doing what he does best. So it’s good to see him back healthy and I can’t wait to see him out there [Wednesday night].
“He just makes the game easy, like Kyrie (Irving) and James (Harden) and everybody on the floor. He just draws so much attention. He lets everybody else eat. He can score over five players if he wanted to. He’s seven-feet: Nobody’s blocking his shot. He doesn’t miss shots in mid-range or 3. So really just out there makes the game easier for everyone and himself.”
Durant was out on the court before the Nets’ morning shootaround putting up extra shots. And Brown said the former MVP – averaging 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists – looks like his old self.
“Still looks great. Still looks like KD, still can score the ball and do whatever he wants to do on the floor. He just makes the offensive game look so easy,” said Brown.
Durant hasn’t played since Feb. 13, when he led the Nets to a victory at Golden State against his former Warriors teammates. But he suffered the hamstring injury and has been sidelined for nearly two months.
In recent weeks, Durant has been ramping up for his comeback, playing four-on-four and working on his conditioning. Last week he spoke with reporters and said a return was imminent.
“I feel great. I feel like it’ll be soon that I’ll be out there with my teammates. The last month or so, it’s been me working out every day,” Durant said. “Playing with my teammates but mainly working out, stay ready, keeping my stamina up and sharpening up my skills so I can be able to transition back smoothly.
“It’s been too long for me and hopefully be back out there soon.”
He won’t play with James Harden on Wednesday night, with Harden out with his own hamstring injury.
“Well, it’s tough losing James for sure. We got used to playing with him, so now it’s going to be an adjustment. But now it’s next man up. K’s coming back, so he can kind of fill that void. But it’s going to be tough, and hope he comes back soon,” said Brown, confident they’ll have time to readjust again upon Harden’s return.
The Big Three have started just seven games together, going 6-1. With Harden expected to miss at least 10 days – and the Nets playing five games in that span – there will likely be just 21 games left for them to play together before the postseason.
“Maybe a few games, a few practices, not too much time. Everybody knows how to play basketball,” Brown said. “Everybody knows each other’s strength and what everybody likes to do on the floor. So I don’t think it’ll take too much time.”
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