Durant will return for Nets at former club Golden State

New York (AFP) –


Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant returned to practice Friday after missing three games under Covid-19 safety protocols and will play on Saturday against his former club, the Golden State Warriors.

Durant will be "a full go" for his first NBA game back in the Bay Area since leaving Golden State in the opener of a five-game Brooklyn road trip, Nets coach Steve Nash said.

The All-Star forward was forced to sit out as a close contact of someone with the coronavirus, with the Nets going 1-2 in his absence.

Durant led the Warriors to NBA titles in 2017 and 2018, earning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player honors each year, before suffering a torn Achilles tendon in the 2019 NBA Finals and then departing Golden State for the Nets.

His return will come in the new arena in San Francisco the Warriors moved into last season but without spectators due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"I'm looking forward to playing the game," Durant said. "I had some great years in Golden State. Looking forward to being back in the Bay Area. It's a shame the fans won't be there."

The Nets beat Golden State 125-99 at home on December 22 with Durant scoring 22 points, grabbing five rebounds, making three assists and three steals against the Warriors.

Since then, the Nets have added three-time NBA scoring champion James Harden and compiled a 15-12 record, third in the Eastern Conference, while the Warriors are 14-12, eighth in the Western Conference.

"It should be a different game than it was the first time," Durant said. "We've incorporated James into our system. I'm looking forward to a good game."

Harden expects to see Durant at his best against his former teammates, spectators or not.

"It's his first time going back," Harden told ESPN. "I'm sure he's going to go out there and be Kevin Durant. It would have been a lot different if there had been fans."

Former Warriors frontcourt teammate Draymond Green told ESPN that Golden State should save any large welcome-home tributes until fans are in the stands.

"Maybe we do like a small tribute video but I think that should be saved for when there are fans in the stands," Green said. "Maybe give him a little something but save the best for when the fans are back."