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Steve Nash: Nets being cautious with Kevin Durant amid ‘critical last part’ of rehab

Kevin Durant is nearing his return to the court after a month-plus-long absence due to a hamstring strain, but the Brooklyn Nets are well-positioned to play it safe as the team has remained on a roll without the former MVP.

Nets head coach Steve Nash provided an update on Durant’s status on Tuesday. While the superstar is expected to be available for games “very soon,” per Nash, there is no definitive timetable when it comes to Durant’s return.

“Just trying to make sure that functional strength is there and that he’s — we’re confident that he can re-enter playing safely. That is the thing, right? Kevin is doing very well,” Nash said, per the New York Daily News. “If this was the playoffs, there’s a chance he’d be back, you know, very soon. But there’s no point in taking a big risk with him when the most important thing is to get him back for the remainder of the season.”

Durant has been out since Feb. 13 and has missed 18 of the Brooklyn’s last 19 games, including three due to landing in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The Nets have not only been able to keep things together amid Durant’s extended absence, the team remains on an impressive and dominant surge that began before the star’s injury and continued after the All-Star break earlier this month.

The red-hot Nets have now won eight of their last 10 games after James Harden had 25 points and 17 assists while leading the team — also presently without Kyrie Irving — to a 116-112 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. Brooklyn (30-14) is currently slotted in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference and trail the Philadelphia 76ers (31-13) by one game.

Hamstring strains can be notoriously wonky injuries, and there’s always the risk of returning too soon from such a setback. Given the Nets’ hot streak, Nash indicated there’s no reason to push Durant and rush along his return.

“Kevin is doing very well,” Nash said, via ESPN. “If this was the playoffs, there’s a chance he’d be back very soon, but there’s no point in taking a big risk with him when the most important thing is to get him back for the remainder of the season.”

The case against pushing Durant is further reinforced at how Harden, after adjusting his game upon his arrival in Brooklyn, somehow keeps taking his game to another level night after night.

“I think it is still up in the air, he just has to close that kind of critical last stage of his rehab,” Nash said of Durant. “He is working out on the court pretty much every day, he looks great.”