Kevin Durant injured: How the Brooklyn Nets star's knee sprain impacts the Eastern Conference playoff chase

What does Kevin Durant's MCL sprain mean for him and the Brooklyn Nets?

A day after Durant left the Nets' win over the New Orleans Pelicans with a knee injury, an MRI revealed a sprain to his left MCL. Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Brooklyn anticipates a four- to six-week timetable for Durant's recovery, consistent with a Grade 2 sprain.

Durant should be back in plenty of time for the playoffs, but his absence limits the number of opportunities for the Nets to see him play with All-Star teammates James Harden and Kyrie Irving. The trio had played just two games together since Irving rejoined Brooklyn while eligible to play in road games, including a 26-point win in Chicago over the Eastern Conference-leading Bulls most recently.

With 11 of their next 14 games on the road, the Nets were anticipating an extended look at their three stars. Instead, as was the case during much of the 2020-21 regular season after the addition of Harden, Brooklyn's trio will instead give the team cover to deal with one of them being absent.

Let's break down the implications.

Nets stars rarely available at same time

The degree to which absences for Durant, Harden and Irving have been staggered since Harden debuted in Brooklyn one year ago is almost uncanny. Of the 101 regular-season games the Nets have played in that span, Brooklyn has had all three stars for just 10. Just twice have none of the three been available. Brooklyn has typically been down one star (66 of 101 games) and occasionally two of the three (the remaining 23).