The Brooklyn Nets find themselves in an unfortunate yet, a familiar situation in their second-round series of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. All throughout the regular season, the Nets' big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving struggled to stay healthy. As a result, they hardly played alongside each other this year.
Considering two of the three stars are proven champions, the Nets felt confident they would be able to make a deep run in the postseason without having the three log a ton of minutes on the court together in the regular season.
It's true when Durant, Harden, and Irving play together, it seems they've been playing with each other throughout the entire year -- but all three players have struggled to remain consistently healthy throughout the season.
Nothing about that changed in the playoffs. Aside from Kevin Durant, the Nets' big three have seen its fair share of setbacks so far in the postseason. During Game 1 of the second-round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, James Harden left the game in under a minute as he suffered a hamstring injury.
Since leaving the court ten days ago, Harden hasn't returned and missed Brooklyn's last three playoff games. Although he intends to take the court for Tuesday's Game 5 matchup barring any setbacks, the Nets' big three still isn't fully healthy.
During Brooklyn's Game 4 loss on Sunday afternoon, Nets guard Kyrie Irving went down with an ankle injury. While X-rays came back negative, Irving was diagnosed with an ankle sprain and was seen using crutches, leaving the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Sunday evening.
While Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash didn't have a timetable in place for the veteran guard, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Nets are reportedly moving forward with the idea that Irving might not be back out on the court for the remainder of the series against Milwaukee.
"The Nets are tied 2-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Bucks and are preparing to be without guard Kyrie Irving (right ankle sprain) for the rest of the series, sources said. The team hasn't ruled Irving out beyond Game 5, but Harden is clearly much closer to a return."
Getting Harden back in the mix after Irving's injury will definitely help a struggling Nets team out -- but that doesn't erase the concern for Irving's injury. The Nets would be wise to keep Irving's window for return open as long as he receives treatment on his ankle, but it seems there's no guarantee he'll be back to face the Bucks again this year.