TThe Brooklyn Nets started this season as many of the experts’ favorites to reach the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference. While that, They were overrun by the Boston Celtics In the first round of qualifying. All that remains now is to try to figure out what went wrong in Brooklyn.
James Harden trade
The Nets started this season with the Big Three: healthy, theoretical Kevin Durant, on the field, Kyrie Irving, and one-time NBA MVP James Harden, acquired last January in a deal With the Houston Rockets. It was high risk move To bring these talented warriors together, since they all had differed with their previous privileges.
No one was shocked, the trio didn’t last, and it was Harden who left. With their options limited in getting a potential All-Star influence in the Harden deal, they arranged a disgruntled swap with the Philadelphia 76ers, bringing them back the hugely talented, top man in defense Ben Simmons.
The Nets gambling was based on the idea that Simmons was forbidden to play Because his relationship with the Sixers has broken up After his famous offensive collapse during last year’s playoffs. As it turns out, it was more than that: Simmons’ absence was due to physical and mental health issues in the end prevent him from playing One minute in Brooklyn this season.
Yes, in the long run, the Nets may have something to do with the Simmons acquisition. However, having to strike a Harden deal and compromise with this particular comeback hurt Brooklyn’s chances of success this year.
The main reason Harden got tired of being put in Brooklyn? Well, it didn’t help that he was dealing with the endless circus that was Irving’s fight with New York City. It turns out that New York’s Covid-19 restrictions mean unvaccinated players cannot play at home at Barclays Center, making it impossible for Irving to play in Brooklyn for most of the regular season. During several crucial matches, Irving was a spectator.
Plenty of other players – despite their personal beliefs – would have simply been vaccinated, especially when it hurt their team’s chances of winning the championship. After all, the engaged Irving is considered one of the most dangerous players in the entire league.
Irving, for his own reasonsHe refused to make any such sacrifices for his teammates. If you’re wondering if that was the reason why Harden eventually got out of town, that’s OK conventional wisdom Although there is no official confirmation from Harden himself. The guy who thinks the problem affected the season is, well, Kyrie Irving. “I suspect [my vaccine status] said the rule after Monday’s loss to the Celtics. “And you see, we just made some drastic changes.”
Kevin Durant injured
Therefore, the Nets were without Irving in many games, Harden was in Philadelphia and Simmons was on the bench. It was all up to Durant to help take on much of the team’s burden. Unfortunately, Durant suffered MCL injury on January 15 He was missing for over a month and a half (KD wasn’t the only Nets player to waste time, Joe Harris’ season was ruined with an ankle injury).
When Durant returned, he was pressed into the serve to pull the net into seventh place that required them to win the playoff just to make the playoffs. By the time the playoffs began, Durant was beginning to feel the effects of the heavy minutes he was playing near the end of the regular season.
That’s not a complete excuse for his early struggles against Boston – especially since the Celtics were missing pole position Robert Williams in the first two games of the series – but it wouldn’t have helped. He managed 39 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds in Game Four, but at that point he was running empty.
The Nets used to hire mascots instead of head coaches: let’s not forget that they only brought in Jason Kidd on the season after he retired as a player. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that they handed Hall of Famer Steve Nash the keys to the team in September 2020 even though it was never NBA Assistant coach before.
Nets players were supportive of Nash Monday night after their season ended, but at times during that sweep, Nash looked more like a babysitter than a coach. With his team losing 2-0 and facing a crucial 3 game, Nash seemed sensitive about calling timeouts and designing plays, hoping the vets would find the right track on their own. Mostly they don’t.
Upon hiring Nash, Irving was famous for responding to the news lightly“I don’t really see that we have a ‘lead’ coach.” It might not have been the most polite statement in the world, but Nash hasn’t done much to prove his guard wrong during this season.
However, it’s hard to tell what Nash could have done given how much the Celtics outdid his team. While dysfunction in Brooklyn grabbed the headlines, Boston should have been preferred from the start.
After faltering in the first half of the season with head coach Aim Odoka still learning on the job after an impressive stint coaching under Greg Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs and Nash himself with netsThe team was healthy, Odoka came on his own and the Celtics finally found their identity.
Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown learned to play with each other again. Promoted to starting point guard, Marcus Smart emerged as the best defensive player in the NBA…and the rest of his team wasn’t far behind. The Celtics were the league’s best defensive team in the second half of the regular season, and there was no slack on the offensive end either. Given a chance to play in the last game of the season and avoid facing Durant and Irving in the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics played in full force against the Memphis Grizzlies B. Seizing the second oriental seed.
They accepted the challenge because they knew they could beat the nets on their own terms. By betting on themselves, the Celtics not only avenged their loss to the Nets in the playoffs last year, but may also have put the entire Brooklyn organization back on the drawing board.
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