Nets missing several key players on injury report vs. Bucks

The Brooklyn Nets will be severely shorthanded when they travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks Thursday. Nic Claxton (right thumb sprain/left Achilles tendinopathy), Cam Johnson (right knee soreness) and Royce O’Neale (left knee soreness) will all be out for the matchup.

Claxton has been among the top defenders in the league while manning the middle for the Nets this season. The fourth-year center leads the NBA in total blocks while building upon his reputation as one of the league’s top perimeter-defending bigs. Claxton has guarded the most isolations in the NBA (164) by a wide margin, allowing 0.79 points per possession on those plays, the third-fewest among 30 players to defend 70 or more. The 23-year-old has also made significant strides offensively, leading the league in field goal percentage (70.8) while developing an array of crafty finishes around the rim.

Johnson has been an integral part of Brooklyn’s offense since being acquired as part of the Kevin Durant megadeal. The 6’8″ forward has averaged 16.9 points on 44.4 percent shooting from the field and 34.1 percent from three (7.5 attempts per game).

O’Neale ranks 28th in the NBA in total minutes this season, averaging over 32 per game. The veteran Nets wing is shooting a career-best 39.1 percent from three on a career-high 5.5 attempts per game but has seen his playing time cut amid the acquisitions of Johnson, Mikal Bridges and Dorian Finney-Smith at the deadline.

Ben Simmons will miss his eighth consecutive game following the All-Star break. The three-time All-Star was initially forced out by left knee soreness before an MRI revealed inflammation in his back. This marks Simmons’ fourth extended absence of the year, three of which have been caused by the nagging knee issue. The 26-year-old has missed 23 games this season. It’s unclear when he will return.

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