Durant back, will start for Nets against Heat on Thursday

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant yells to teammates during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) (Morry Gash, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Kevin Durant will start for the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night against Miami after missing 21 games with a sprained left knee ligament.

Jacque Vaughn, coaching the team with Steve Nash in health and safety protocols, said there would be no preset limits for how much Durant could play, saying they would keep an open dialogue during the game.

The Nets brought Durant off the bench in his first game after returning from a lengthy injury absence last season, but Vaughn said the All-Star forward was ready to play from the start this time.

The Nets were 5-16 in Durant's absence, falling from second place to eighth in the Eastern Conference. They are still without Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, but believe just having Durant will make a difference.

“It’ll have an immediate impact on our juice and our level of play tonight for sure,” Vaughn said.