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Nets’ growing injuries putting a ‘strain’ on rest of lineup

Among the more under-the-radar problems to befall the Nets this season: after Nic Claxton suffered an eye contusion on Sunday night against the Lakers, the Nets are now managing injuries to four of their rotation mainstays, and that is without counting Kyrie Irving’s suspension, the end date of which is unknown

Seth Curry has played just five games as he works his way back to full health with a nagging left ankle, though he was listed as probable for Tuesday. T.J. Warren hasn’t taken the court this season with a left foot issue. Ben Simmons didn’t dress for Sunday’s 116-103 loss with left knee soreness and is questionable for Tuesday. And, though Claxton was listed as probable against the Kings that eye contusion was less than ideal. 

In addition, Joe Harris does not seem quite 100 percent, and his numbers are down significantly following an ankle injury and subsequent surgeries last season. And there was a new addition to the injury report on Monday night, with Yuta Watanabe listed as questionable with a lower-back contusion. 

Nic Claxton
Nic Claxton

If the first month of the season had been played under normal circumstances, the injuries might be the biggest story in the Nets’ 6-8 start. Instead, they have rightly taken a backseat to the circus surrounding Irving and Steve Nash being fired as head coach. Still, there is some responsibility to dole out there. 

“It just puts us straight on everyone else,” head coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters Sunday. “We put David Duke in, Patty [Mills] earlier, Markieff [Morris] earlier in our normal rotation. So, tried to really use our group to get us to the end of the game. It puts a strain on us when we are not completely whole, for sure.” 

Vaughn also changed Kevin Durant’s usual minutes allotment on Sunday, playing him at the start of the fourth quarter instead of sitting him until the six-minute mark, with the Nets on a run to end the third. 

“Going into the fourth, we knew we was going to have one more good push [in] us,” Vaughn said. “So if we had waited too long and brought him in at the six-minute mark, I think it might have been over already. We decided to run him and he ended up not playing the last four or five minutes of the game.” 

Irving’s suspension will continue for a seventh game Tuesday. 

The Nets split two games against the Kings last season with the home team winning each one.

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