Nets coach Steve Nash on Kevin Durant playing big minutes: ‘It’s not safe or sustainable’

As good as Kevin Durant has been going into the 2021-22 season, Steve Nash would actually like to see a little less of him on the court.

Before the Nets defeated the 76ers at the Barclays Center on Thursday night, the Brooklyn coach told reporters he was concerned about the number of minutes Durant has been playing. After recording 39 minutes in a 114-105 win over Philadelphia, Durant now averages 37.0 minutes per game, which is second in the NBA behind Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (38.0).

“I don’t know if we can keep leaning on him like we have. It doesn’t feel right,” Nash said. “I know he’s enjoying it. I know he’s enjoying playing at the pace he’s playing and trying to take his teammates with him and all the responsibility that he’s accepted and crushed, basically. It’s been amazing.

“But at the same time, we know that it is not safe or sustainable to continue to rely on him in that way. There will be a lot of consideration and we will have to find a way to give him breaks.”

Unfortunately for Nash, his rotation is extremely tight right now. The Nets have several players in health and safety protocols, including James Harden, and they are still missing Joe Harris (ankle surgery) and Kyrie Irving (who does not meet New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. ). Durant has performed at an MVP level, averaging 29.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, so any competition he does not participate in will likely result in a loss for a Brooklyn team that is currently at the top of the list. the Eastern Conference rankings with a 21- 8 record.

“I love playing. I like being out there, and the challenge of winning is fun for me,” Durant said after adding 34 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against the Sixers. “It doesn’t matter who is on the court, we want to play to win.”

While it’s clear Durant remains focused on doing whatever it takes to help his team continue on its winning path, Nash must keep his eyes on the bigger picture. Durant is just two years away from an Achilles tendon injury that sidelined him for the entire 2019-20 season, and was limited to 35 games during the 2021-22 regular season due to other injuries. The challenge for Nash will be finding rest for Durant while maintaining a competitive team on the court.

When asked about the Nets being forced to play without key collaborators, Nash explained that it’s a bit of a good and bad situation.

“The question is, are we over the threshold [of the minimum amount of players required to be available for a game], so to speak, which is positive. At the same time, we are just barely above the threshold, so what about our players? “Nash said.” Is it better to be above the threshold and not play until you have a healthy squad? Or is it better to have enough to play, but to be understaffed and the burden and the cost these guys have and know that they are going to have guys that come back and that they haven’t been able to practice or play basketball? ?

“So it’s definitely hard to navigate.”