Kyrie Irving’s playoff future in doubt after ankle injury derails Nets

Irving left midway through the second quarter against the Bucks and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

MILWAUKEE — The Nets lost Kyrie Irving to a sprained right ankle Sunday. The All-Star guard’s availability for the rest of these suddenly tight Eastern Conference semifinals in very much in doubt.

Irving left the game midway through the second quarter of the 107-96 Game 4 loss to the Bucks, and didn’t return. It’s unclear when he will, his right ankle now replacing James Harden’s right hamstring as the most-watched body part in the NBA.

“Ky, the X-rays were negative. But we will have to see how it goes [Monday] for further tests and treatment,” Steve Nash said. “Obviously, we lost a great player during the game which was tough.”

The Nets did not offer any clarity on the severity of the injury. Grade 1 strains can typically take a week or two to heal fully. Grade 2 or 3 would take longer. Irving was in a walking boot and using crutches, according to ESPN.

Kyrie Irving was ruled out for the rest of the Nets’ Game 4 with a right ankle sprain.
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After winning the first two games in Brooklyn, the Nets now find the series knotted at 2-2 and will return to Barclays Center for Game 5 on Tuesday.

“I have no idea what is going to happen with Ky in the coming days,” Nash said. “We will cross our fingers and hope that it is better than … I don’t know. Better than what? Better than missing the next game?”

Irving went up for a layup with 6:04 left in the second quarter and landed awkwardly on the foot of Giannis Antetokounmpo. It was debatable whether the two-time MVP gave Irving sufficient room to land, but no foul was called.

“It’s just something that happens throughout basketball,” Jeff Green said. “It sucks that he had to go down.”

Irving went down immediately in severe discomfort. Play continued for 12 seconds before being halted. He was surrounded by teammates as staff attended to him, with the guard grimacing as they did. Irving was helped up and walked off the court under his own power and toward the locker room with a visible limp.

His availability — or lack thereof — could shift this series.

“You can never not acknowledge Irving’s a great player,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “The great players make everything harder for you. If Irving is there, he tests you.”

Harden has played only 43 seconds in this series and is still out despite the Nets’ claims the past few days that his tight right hamstring is making progress. Nash struggled to define exactly what that progress consists of.

“I’m not sure I can answer it,” Nash admitted. “I’m just going off of [asking] how’s James doing? ‘Good. It’s getting better.’ I asked him and he says he’s feeling better, doing better. I ask the staff, they say ‘Yeah, it’s getting better.’ So I don’t know if I can detail what that is fairly.

“But he is on the court. He’s doing some shooting, some movement, his rehab, and he’s progressing in the right direction. But I don’t know exactly what he’s capable of. He’s still in that area where he’s got a little gap to make up.”

When pressed on what benchmarks Harden has to clear, Nash said: “There’s a certain amount of continual high-intensity loads. When he’s able to get up to full speed and do it for two or three days without recurrence or setback, that’s the markers.”

Nash was clear the Irving injury would have no impact on the timetable for Harden’s return. He won’t be rushed back, or be allowed to rush himself back.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Brian Lewis

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