The Brooklyn Nets were dealt a major blow as they prepared for this game against the Philadelphia 76ers with Kyrie Irving ruling himself out of the clash due to personal reasons. The 28-year-old made himself unavailable just hours before tip off, as head coach Steve Nash named a Nets line up without both star players Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Brooklyn weathered the storm eventually registering a 122-109 win.
The Brooklyn Nets announced that star guard Kyrie Irving was out against the 76ers for personal reasons on Thursday, and head coach Steve Nash reportedly hadn’t heard from the All-Star leading up to tip-off. The Nets coach speaking to the media roughly an hour and 45 minutes before tip-off said that he had just found out that Irving won’t be playing. Nash revealed that he sent the 28-year-old a text and hasn’t received a reply yet, and hopes he is okay.
A source told The Athletic's Joe Vardon that Kyrie Irving is OK but did not know when the All-Star would return. Heavy’s Scoop B reports that the 28-year-old just didn’t want to play and took a day off due to what transpired in Washington DC. Irving had also taken a day off after the tragic death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant last year.
Translation: He took a personal day.— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) January 8, 2021
Mental health is important.
Irving took a personal day after the death of Kobe Bryant last year. https://t.co/KpSjpzG1Z5
Forward Kevin Durant, who is in quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, was also out against the 76ers. The former Warriors star could face former side Oklahoma City Thunder if he continues to test negative for coronavirus. The Nets were also without guard Tyler Johnson, who has been placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols. Nash revealed that Johnson hasn’t tested positive for coronavirus, but is not playing while he goes through contact tracing.
Despite their long-list of absentees, Brooklyn Nets turned it on the style at Barclays Center to send the 76ers packing. In the absence of Durant and Irving, Joe Harris took the onus himself scoring 28 points, well supported by Caris LeVert who scored 22 points. Jarret Allen (15 pts), Taurean Prince (13 pts) and Jeff Green (14 pts) all got into double figures as Philadelphia succumbed to just their second defeat of the campaign so far. The 76ers’ charge was led by Shake Milton (24 pts) and Joel Embiid (20 pts), with Tobias Harris (17 pts), Ben Simmons (11 pts) and Tyrese Maxey (16 pts) all got into double figures.