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Harden enters NBA health, safety protocols; Nets with seven players in protocols

A day after Kevin Durant dropped 51 points on the Detroit Pistons, Michael Smith and Michael Holley talk about a shift in aura that may be the cause of his MVP-level play.

James Harden has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, the team announced less than two hours before tip-off against Toronto.

Bruce Brown went into protocols Tuesday as well, making it seven Nets players to go into protocols in the last 24 hours. The Nets also are without Joe Harris (ankle surgery) and Kyrie Irving (personal decision).

That left Brooklyn with eight players available to take the court and play Tuesday night against Toronto — the league minimum or the game would have been postponed — and that’s only because Kevin Durant, who was questionable with an ankle issue, will suit up and play.

The Nets are also without several assistant coaches, according to reports.

These are all breakthrough cases, all the Nets players besides Irving are vaccinated (they had to be to play under the New York City vaccine mandate). While the vaccine does not prevent someone from getting the disease, studies have shown that it reduces the chances of hospitalization or other severe outcomes and lessens the chance of transmission.

In the short term, the Nets can sign five players to “hardship” contracts, allowing them to play games until the guys on the roster are cleared to return. Those players very likely would come out of the G-League.

Tonight is the first game of a five-game homestand for the Nets.