The Brooklyn Nets will continue to be without one of their key contributors for their do-or-die Game 7 showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. After missing Games 5 and 6, Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to the ankle injury he suffered in Game 4 of the second-round series.
Nets coach Steve Nash noted that Irving has "some miles to go" in his recovery process, though Nash did say he anticipates that Irving should be available at some point during the Eastern Conference finals if they are able to make it there. In order for that to occur, they'll have to take care of business against the Bucks without Irving.
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Irving's injury occurred in the first half of Game 4 when the star guard was landing after putting up a shot attempt at the basket. On his way down, Giannis Antetokounmpo came up behind him preparing to grab a rebound, but his foot was underneath Irving's landing space and caused him to come down directly on top of it. You can see the play below:
Kyrie Irving appeared to roll his ankle while landing on the foot of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Irving limped to the locker room on his own. pic.twitter.com/CTxMM9s4nq— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 13, 2021
Prior to the injury, Irving had 11 points and five rebounds while the Nets and Bucks were locked in a tightly contested game. After Irving exited the game, however, the Bucks were able to pull away and they ultimately came away with a 107-96 win to tie the series up at 2-2. The Nets were able to win Game 5 in the series behind a monster 49-point performance from Kevin Durant, but then they dropped Game 6 in Milwaukee. Now, it all comes down to Game 7.
Being without Irving for such a critical contest is obviously a big blow for Brooklyn, but at least it has James Harden back. Harden returned to the Nets' lineup in Game 5 after missing the first four games of the series with a hamstring injury. Despite being fresh off an injury, Harden played over 40 minutes in both Games 5 and 6, and the Nets will need him to carry a big load again in Game 7 without Irving. Moving forward, the Nets just have to hope that they can best the Bucks without the star guard, and then that he's able to return to action early on in the conference finals.