Kevin Durant is available to play for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans. This will mark the first time he's been in game action since Feb. 13 when he suffered a hamstring injury. It was initially believed to be minor, but scans revealed more bleeding than the team initially expected. Given the torn Achilles tendon Durant suffered as a member of the Golden State Warriors, the Nets decided to be cautious. He's missed Brooklyn's last 22 games.
While Durant returns, the Nets are not going to be back at full strength quite yet. James Harden will miss at least 10 days with a hamstring injury of his own. That injury was initially suffered in a win over the Houston Rockets. Harden returned after missing two games on Monday but aggravated the injury in a win over the New York Knicks.
The trio of Harden, Durant and Kyrie Irving has played in only seven games together this season, and Brooklyn is willing to keep that total low in the regular season if it means having a healthy group in the postseason. Fortunately, they haven't had much trouble winning despite the injuries. The Nets are currently tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for the best record in the Eastern Conference ,thanks to Harden and Irving, who have thrived in Durant's absence. Durant's playing style is low-maintenance, so it shouldn't interfere with the momentum the team has generated.
The Nets are heavy favorites in the East. If the Lakers don't get back to full strength in time for the playoffs, they might even be championship favorites, and they've earned that distinction with their best player injured for almost two months. Now they have him back, and soon, they'll have their entire star-studded roster healthy enough to push for the franchise's first championship.