Nets get a little normalcy in first team gathering in nearly a week

Barclays Center Nets
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets hadn’t been on the court together in a few days, but for many of them, the time off has felt much longer.

Brooklyn was able to get some time on the court on Friday before flying to Los Angeles for their Christmas Day meeting with the Lakers. The Nets have not played since last Saturday due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak among their roster and the rest of the NBA.

“It has been a few days, but it feels like months since we’ve all been together,” Patty Mills said. “It’s kind of refreshing to see some of the guys again that are obviously out of the protocols, and exciting. In saying that, it’s probably been a good little rest for us to ave over the last couple of days. Definitely good and really look forward to getting back on the floor for Christmas tomorrow.”

The Nets had three players, including James Harden, come out of COVID protocol on Thursday and additionally got DeAndre’ Bembry out of Protocol on Friday. Head coach Steve Nash also confirmed that James Harden will play on Saturday in Los Angeles, as well as Nic Claxton.

Saturday will be Harden’s first game on the court since the Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 12. Harden did practice on Friday with the team, with Mills describing him as “raring and ready to go.”

Friday marked the first bit of normalcy the Nets have had since COVID began to run rampant around the team’s locker room more than a week ago. Paul Millsap was the first to enter protocol before eventually 10 Nets, including Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, found themselves sidelined because of the virus.

Last week, Blake Griffin compared watching his teammates going into protocol to being called into the principal’s office. Bembry described it as being “snatched real quick.”

“It just depends on where you’re at,” Bembry said. “Sometimes you might get pulled right before a game.  I know that happened a lot last year. Guys were getting pulled during a game, right before the game. It just depends on where you’re at. Even some of the rookies they had a couple of the games while we all were out and then they ended up getting snatched right after the game. It just depends on the situation, scenario where you’re at.

“It’s so random to us, especially with as much testing as we do, you never know.”

While the rest time has surely been good for the Nets, their ability to practice over the past week had been severely limited. Players that were not in protocol were able to work out individually and those in protocol were limited to what they had at home.

Bembry, for example, only was able to do limited workouts since he only had a bike and dumbbells at home.

Knowing that the Nets will have Hardening and some more familiar faces will start to make Nash’s job a bit easier, but the limited practice and the fluidness to the roster will still be a challenge against the Lakers.

“We just do the best we can,” Nash said. “We have a lot of guys coming off an extended break. Nobody is in great condition, so we have to just manage the group. Try to be as competitive as possible, but at the same time be careful. Guys coming out and playing a game after an absence like this is tricky. We’ll do what we can.

“A lot of these decisions are still to be made before the game, during the game, as the game goes on. We just have to be very fluid and adaptable. Have a great attitude and take it as an opportunity.”