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Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant to return Thursday vs. Miami Heat

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, shown April 5, 2021, has missed more than a month because of a sprained left MCL. File Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, shown April 5, 2021, has missed more than a month because of a sprained left MCL. File Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE

March 2 (UPI) -- Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant is expected to return Thursday night against the Miami Heat after missing more than a month because of a sprained left MCL.

Durant, who wasn't listed on the team's official injury report Wednesday for the first time since getting injured in the Nets' Jan. 15 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, will provide a major boost for a team that posted a lackluster 5-16 record in his absence.

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Without Durant on the court, the Nets slipped to 32-31 this season and eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. Brooklyn also had to endure star guard James Harden's trade demand, along with the ongoing absence of Kyrie Irving in home games due to New York City's COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

It marked a sharp decline for the Nets, who had been at or near the top of the East with Durant on the floor. The All-Star forward was playing like a strong MVP candidate before his knee injury.

Durant returned to practice shortly after the NBA All-Star break and has been around the team much more in recent weeks, signaling his imminent return to the struggling Nets.

The 33-year-old Durant has averaged 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists over 36 games for the Nets this season.

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