Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash confirmed the team will be without Kyrie Irving for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
Irving missed Brooklyn's 114-108 victory on Tuesday with a right ankle sprain. According to Nash, the seven-time All-Star won't travel with the team to Milwaukee and will instead stay back to continue getting treatment for his injured ankle.
James Harden returned to the lineup Tuesday and played 46 minutes after missing the previous three outings because of a hamstring issue. The 2018 MVP had a limited impact, though, going 1-of-10 from the floor for five points, dishing out eight assists and grabbing six rebounds.
Kevin Durant was the driving force in the win, torching Milwaukee to the tune of 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Nets are "are preparing to be without" Irving for the remainder of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, so it's probably safe to assume he'd be out for Game 7, too, if things come to that.
One justification for the franchise's pursuit of Harden was that it would still have two All-NBA talents in the event one of the Big Three was unavailable. The Nets finished second in the East at 48-24 despite Durant, Harden and Irving playing only eight games together in the regular season.
Right now, however, Brooklyn is basically looking at a Big 1.5 with Durant healthy but Harden perhaps still limited.
With one day between games, Harden might be better in Game 6 at Milwaukee, which would allay the fears about how the team will continue to operate without Irving. The Nets will likely need more from him because it can't count on getting the Game 5 version of Durant—no matter how great he is—every time out.