Nets forward Yuta Watanabe downgraded to out against Pacers

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Nets forward Yuta Watanabe downgraded to out against Pacers on Friday

On Thursday, Brooklyn Nets forward Yuta Watanabe was downgraded to out for Friday night’s road matchup against the Indiana Pacers. The fifth-year player is still recovering from a strained right hamstring.

According to the medical staff, Watanabe will likely return this Sunday, when the Nets take on the Portland Trail Blazers at Barclays Center. Through 19 games, the Nets are 9-10 and rank 10th overall in the Eastern Conference.

Per multiple NBA betting sites, the Nets have the sixth-best odds to win the championship in 2023. Check out which sportsbooks show higher odds for the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

Through 14 games off the bench this season, Watanabe is averaging 8.1 points and 2.9 rebounds. Plus, he is shooting career highs of 60.9% from the floor and 57.1% from three-point range.

Of course, the 28-year-old leads the NBA in three-point percentage, and the forward’s true shooting percentage is a career-best 78.1%. Watanabe’s one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Nets was a steal for the organization.

“He got an MRI [exam] in Philly and Yuta has a hamstring strain,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said prior to the Nets’ 112-98 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

Nets forward Yuta Watanabe ruled out against Pacers for Friday’s road game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

On Sunday, Watanabe suffered his hamstring injury in Brooklyn’s 127-115 win against the Memphis Grizzlies. In 25 minutes, the wing ended his performance with 16 points, three boards, and three assists.

“So, we’ll reassess him when we get back home,” added Vaughn. “Definitely miss him. I spoke a little bit [Tuesday] of how I put a little bit of strain, because it gives us the ability to play big and small.”

Last Thursday, in the Nets’ 109-107 win over the Trail Blazers, Watanabe scored a season-high 20 points in 29 minutes of action. He went 5-of-7 (71.4%) shooting from the field and hit five three-pointers on seven attempts.

“And there was a stretch where we just missed him, so we had to run Royce [O’Neale] a little bit longer, he ends up playing 38, 39, 40 minutes,” continued the Nets coach. “So, it puts a strain on the group overall.

We just want him [Watanabe] to remain confident and shoot the opportunities that he gets out there. He makes the game a lot easier, and we have guys that are willing to sacrifice their body night-to-night. We want to reward them, especially when they’re shooting the ball.”

Other players out for Brooklyn include T.J. Warren (left foot) and Alondes Williams (G League).

Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Nets have a 55.9% chance of defeating the Pacers on Friday. Sportsbooks show Brooklyn as a three-point favorite on the road.