The Brooklyn Nets are having their 'next man up' mentality pushed to the limit after Ben Simmons and T.J. Warren both left Thursday's 130-122 loss against the Detroit Pistons with knee injuries.
Brooklyn are already without MVP candidate Kevin Durant as he recovers from an MCL sprain in his right knee, while bench spark plug Seth Curry also missed Thursday's game with soreness in his right knee.
Their injury situation went from bad to worse against the Pistons as Simmons exited the game in the third quarter and did not return due to left knee soreness, before Warren suffered a left knee contusion and was taken out in the fourth quarter.
Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said after the game that he is unsure whether one or both would undergo MRI scans on Friday, and while both injuries appear minor, it is unknown if they will be able to suit up for Saturday's rivalry game against the New York Knicks.
Despite the loss, it was an impressive day for Kyrie Irving, who was named an All-Star starter before dropping a game-high 40 points (14-of-27 shooting) with six assists, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Just filthy. pic.twitter.com/NgAUJxxBZw— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 27, 2023
Speaking to the media after his performance, Irving said he would do all he can to keep the Nets afloat, but lamented the uncertainty the team faces in their next stretch after losing six of their past eight fixtures.
"I can't control everyone's emotions day-to-day, as much as I see myself as one of the leaders of our team," he said.
"But what I can show is just a consistency to continue to work on off-days, and after the games, and before the games, and just continue to prepare at a very high level.
"Whoever's available for us to play will be available and we just move onto the next game. As much as I would love to sit up here and give you guys a nice diatribe of what it looks like in the future, I just don't know.
"T.J. being out, Ben being out, so we just got to take it one day at a time, and we just want those guys to get healthy – that's the most important thing. We just got to carry our own water right now. Chop wood, carry water."
Despite their recent rough patch, the Nets still sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-19 thanks to a 12-game winning streak before Durant's injury.