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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
8 Apr 2023
Tribune News Service

NextImg:Nets’ Mikal Bridges set to play 83rd game in 82-game season on Sunday

It sounds like Nets star Mikal Bridges will tie a long-standing NBA record of 83 games played in an 82-game season on Sunday in the finale against the Philadelphia 76ers.

It also sounds like he won’t play very much at all — an effort to preserve the ironman’s legs for Brooklyn’s first-round playoff series, ironically against the same team they will play in the season finale.

Bridges, who tallied 22 points in Brooklyn’s playoff-clinching victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday, has appeared in 82 total games this season, the maximum for any team to play in the regular season. Because he was acquired in the midseason deal that sent Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns, the Nets star has one more game available to play.

The last player to accomplish the feat was former Atlanta Hawks All-Star Josh Smith, who arrived in a trade to the Detroit Pistons with an extra game to play.

Head coach Jacque Vaughn said the team will discuss what Bridges’ potential workload looks like against the 76ers, but also hinted that if the star forward does play, it will be a limited role.

“We’ll talk about that, what that looks like,” Vaughn said after the win over the Magic on Friday. “There’s different minutes and seconds that will actually technically be considered in what playing will be. We’ll talk that out a little bit, we’ll have a conversation about what that looks like, but each team obviously wants to go into the playoffs being whole and healthy. That’s the goal for this group, definitely.”

Bridges said there’s no new feeling as the NBA’s presumptive 83-game man. This year marks the third time in the last five years the former Suns star has played all possible games in a season.

“I’ve been in playoffs a couple of years, so I’ve been playing over 82-plus for some years now. I mean, I’m fine, I’m healthy, so I should be fine for tomorrow — or Sunday,” Bridges said postgame. “That’s the way to go with it. I mean it’s dope, you know, it’s crazy. Obviously, just with the situation with the whole not missing a game and then, of course, I get an extra game. Just crazy and wild, but it’s pretty cool.”

Bridges is averaging 27 points per game in Brooklyn since the Durant trade. He is shooting 48% from the field, 39% from three-point range and 90% from the foul line.

For reference, Durant has appeared in just eight games with the Suns — a product of a freak ankle injury suffered in pregame warmups — and is averaging 26 points per game in Phoenix, shooting 57% from the field and 55% from three-point range in limited reps.