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Brooklyn Nets' James Harden will play Wednesday against Spurs, Kyrie Irving ruled out

 The Brooklyn Nets have announced that James Harden will return to action on Wednesday against the Spurs, but Kyrie Irving has been ruled out following the facial contusion he suffered during Tuesday nights 115-107 win over the Chicago Bulls. 

Brooklyn will only have two regular season games after Wednesday's meeting with San Antonio leaving the Nets big three not a lot of time to build chemistry before the start of the playoffs. 

Kevin Durant, Irving, and Harden are perennial All Stars with championship experience, but it has to be a little disconcerting that they can't stay on the court together healthy as a trio. 

Kyrie Irving exits Bulls game after taking elbow to the face from Nikola Vucevic

 Kyrie Irving left Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Bulls with just over 10 minutes left in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the eye from Bulls center Nikola Vucevic. 

The Nets have not issued an update on his status for tomorrow night's game against the San Antonio Spurs but he was immediately ruled out the rest of Tuesday night's contest. The team classified the injury as a facial contusion.

Back in 2019, Irving suffered an orbital bone fracture during one of his first few scrimmages upon signing with the Nets, and while Tuesday's injury is far from good news,  the hope is that the Nets point guard won't be out for a prolonged period, if at all. Brooklyn is expecting James Harden back in the lineup against the Spurs on Wednesday after hamstring problems have sidelined him the past few weeks.

 The Nets big three has only played seven games together and now Irving's status is up in the air just when Harden is returning to action 

Nets Potential Playoff opponents

If the playoffs ended today, the Nets would tangle with the winner of the Celtics/Hornets play-in tournament for the seventh seed. Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, but it’s safe to say Brooklyn would like to avoid a clash with Brad Stevens and Boston, if possible. Even without Jaylen Brown, the C’s have been battle-tested and they are not your typical seventh seed. The Nets would like to avoid Boston (7) or Miami (6) in the opening round and hope that Milwaukee would have to contend with either.

The other team that could give Durant, Harden, Irving and company fits is Washington. The Wizards already beat the Nets twice this year and Bradley Beal’s scoring prowess along with Russell Westbrook’s triple-double capabilities make the electric duo a matchup to avoid. With no disrespect to the following club, Charlotte, the Nets would welcome a matchup with the Hornets over potential games against Miami or Boston. The Nets are in control of their destiny as they have four games left against Chicago, San Antonio, Chicago and Cleveland. Win out and they clinch the two seed and in all likelihood avoid the reigning Eastern conference champion Heat.

With Harden expected to return over the final four games, the must-win games start right now for Steve Nash and crew’s quest for a title.

James Harden holds key to Nets championship hopes

 The Brooklyn Nets made a huge splash during the 2019 free agency period by signing Kyrie Irving and and Kevin Durant with fans singing Sean Marks' praises for netting two of the league's premier scorers. While Durant's recovery from his Achilles surgery sidelined him for all of the 2019-2020 campaign, Irving dazzled in just 20 games before knee troubles curtailed his season. 

Now with Marks pulling another rabbit out of the hat by acquiring James Harden from the Rockets, Durant's former teammate and a close friend to Irving holds the key to the franchise's hope of winning its first NBA title and clinching its first finals berth since the 2002-2003 season. Brooklyn's Big Three has played just seven games as a complete trio with a combination of virus protocol, hamstring issues, load management and personal issues all among many reasons the talented stars have missed significant action this season 

Chief among the Nets' concerns is getting Harden back on the court healthy in time to ramp up for the playoffs. It's clear that without the team's true point guard, the Nets have wavered against the upper echelon teams in the league and that was no more obvious than in two straight losses to Milwaukee the past few days. 

The Nets are still many pundits' favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference and capture the franchise's first Larry O'Brien Trophy, but if those dreams are going to be realized, Harden needs to be at full strength and playing at an MVP-level as he during the first half of the season.  

Madden 21 Review: EA's Legendary Football Title Losing its Luster

  EA’s once-great football franchise is crumbling right before our very eyes. Gone are the days of Pat Sumerrall and John Madden in favor of ushering in the era of commentators Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. That should tell you all you need to know about the iconic football video game title’s fall from grace.

Full disclosure, I’ve been a Maddenite for the better part of the last two decades. From the days of Super Nintendo to PlayStation2 and every console in between, I’ve played the game on virtually all platforms and played through each year’s installment, too. So when I received a review copy of this year’s iteration for Xbox One, I had guarded optimism that the developers would start to move the franchise back in the right direction and get back to the game’s roots. By roots, I don’t mean bringing Madden and Summerall back into the fold with blocky polygon character models or adopting game cartridges.

Madden has been using the Frostbite engine since 2014, not coincidentally, the game has been in a steady freefall ever since. While I’ve been a loyal follower of the franchise, 2020 was the first time I seriously considered another football title could bump the legendary game off its high perch.

The world where it’s easier to complete a pass to Richard Sherman than it is Julio Jones is not a world I want to be living in, but Madden 21 creates this nightmarish scenario for players to endure. During online matches, I was convinced that my early turnover problems were going to become a thing of the past once I adjusted to the game physics. That was not the case. Every 50/50 ball seemed to go to the defender as one- handed interceptions, outstretched grabs from cornerbacks and ranging safeties scurrying from the far sideline to the middle of the field to secure a pick is the norm in this bizarro virtual football world. Madden 21 should come with a throwaway controller for those gamers who are as vexed and perturbed with the cornerback friendly, quarterback-hostile experience as I am.

 Despite the hair-pulling, maddening nature of the game, I still managed to climb into the top two percent of online players by featuring a steady diet of halfback draws, bubble screens and safe, quick passes to limit turnovers. With no vertical passing game to speak of and by capitalizing on the mistakes of opponents, Madden 21 becomes a game that is more about the throws you don’t make than the ones you do.

 Even with the arrival of the unrealistic Yard Mode, which is intended to mirror EA’s NFL Street, has minimal entertainment value. The X-Factor abilities allow players to possess superhuman athletic prowess, which makes an NFL Simulation into more of an arcade-like field. I even played an online game where yardage markers, boundary lines and endzones didn’t even exist. Glitches and faulty AI are aplenty. There’s a reason why hardcore fans of the franchise are starting to jump ship on this year’s version as the NFL’s exclusive football franchise really dropped the ball with Madden 21.

Overall Grade 6.5/10

Nets slated for first round playoff matchup with Raptors if NBA decides to forgo rest of regular season

The Brooklyn Nets currently sit in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference and line up for a matchup with the defending Toronto Raptors. The rest of the NBA season is in serious jeopardy, but a reports surfaced today that the league could potentially see the Finals fall as far back as August and then start the 2020-2021 season on Christmas Day.

It's a strange scenario that many fans wouldn't find ideal, but is the product of the havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. The arrangement that would make the most sense for Adam Silver and company is to just start the playoffs when the league returns and get ahead of the game. If that was the case, Brooklyn would take on Toronto in what would be a daunting series for the Nets.

The issue would become how would players looking to shake rust off that haven't shot basketball in nearly two months return to playoff-caliber basketball albeit in potentially empty arenas. The other scenario is for the NBA to play five tune-out games that would count toward the standings, but shorten the length of the regular season therein allowing the teams to get their feet under them without causing the playoffs to carry too far into the summer months.

The current pandemic has thrown everyone for a whirl, but the idea of a Nets-Raptors matchup with an outside chance of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant playing will excite even the most casual of basketball fans. 

Laughland: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving might be ready to return to play for Nets before NBA returns

As basketball fans anxiously await the return of NBA basketball, Nets fans may see two of the team's star players back healthy before the NBA resumes games. With COVID-19 sweeping the globe, fans anxiously await for the death tolls to plummet and a gradual return to normalcy.

With some within the medical and scientific community indicating that COVID-19 could be present in society for a year or more, some NBA fans and players are simply hoping that the 2020-2021 season starts on time.

While many things are in the air in that regard, Nets' stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are still nursing their way back to full health. With HSS essentially closed down due to COVID-19, it's had a deletorious impact on the standout duo's rehab from injury.

Durant would be one-year from his Achilles injury this June and Irving would be three-months out from shoulder impingement surgery that he underwent in March 3.

The likelihood that an NBA season will take place at all is shrinking by the minute as other countries have experienced multiple waves of outbreaks. The plan is to slowly start opening up the country and get the public back to some sense of normalcy, but the imminent threat of another outbreak makes it difficult for leagues to resume play with the possiblity that things could be shut back down.

If the 2019-2020 season does resume play, it's not out of the realm of possiblities that Irving and Durant could make an appearance afterall.