Jacquie Vaughn seemed to have just one message for the Nets on Wednesday when they returned to the practice court: “No excuses.”
The Nets will not have Kevin Durant for the next month after he suffered an isolated MCL sprain of the right knee in Sunday’s win over Miami. Brooklyn is now tasked with surviving the extended stretch without their franchise cornerstone on the floor.
“That’s the biggest thing for this group. To [be in] the position last year where we were, I just say no excuses,” Vaughn said after the Nets practiced. “Not giving this group a chance to make excuses. Here to play. Here to win. Here to compete. Doesn’t change.”
The position that Vaughn was referring to was the nosedive the Nets had last season after Durant suffered a similar injury in January. It’s one that the Nets don’t want to be in again when he eventually returns to the floor.
With Durant out, the Nets don’t plan on changing anything with their scheme when they play the Celtics on Thursday, but Vaughn did say that Brooklyn will need to “do things better.”
“Whether that is rebounding the basketball better because Kevin can make a shot for us and cover up some of our sins,” Vaughn said. “So the shot discrepancy can’t be the same. We can’t turn it over the same. So all the things that increase or decrease your margins, we just got to be better at. Nothing changes for our group. We play extremely hard and let everything else fall where it may.”
Inside the Nets locker room, that mindset had seemed to quickly be adopted among the players. Nic Claxton echoed similar sentiments when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
The Nets’ big man seemed optimistic that Brooklyn had the pieces and mindset to weather the storm.
“Just our spirit, our energy, our vibes the way that we’ve been defending even though we’re definitely going to miss him out there. I’m going to miss him out there on the defensive end, but yeah the way our principles, how solid we’ve been defensively, offensively, we’ll figure it out,” Claxton said.
The Nets said that Durant would be reevaluated in two weeks, but a report from ESPN suggested they’ll be without Durant for a month. Vaughn would not say on Wednesday what grade the injury was or who would start for the Nets on Thursday.
Vaughn did say that Durant was in good spirits and was going through the process to recover.
“You don’t want him to miss anytime. But, you know, I guess it could have been worse,” Vaughn said. “I guess you can say that part of it, but you don’t want him to miss any time. So for him now, just to heal and like I said, we’ll be a better team when he returns.”