From superteams to superflops: who was to blame for the Nets playoff loss? | Brooklyn Nets

TThe Brooklyn Nets started the season as the pundits’ favorite to reach the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference. Instead, they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. All that’s left now is to try to figure out what went wrong in Brooklyn.

James Harden’s Trading

The Nets started the season with the Big Three: the theoretically fit Kevin Durant, the theoretically on-court Kyrie Irving and one-time NBA MVP in James Harden, who earned the previous January in a trade with the Houston Rockets. It was a high-stakes move to bring these talented veterans together, given that they had all been at odds with their previous franchises.

No one was surprised, the trio didn’t last long, and it was Harden who left. With their options limited in securing a potential All-Star impact in the Harden deal, they arranged a disgruntled exchange with the Philadelphia 76ers, which brought them back the incredibly talented, first-ever defensive big man Ben Simmons.

The Nets bet was based on the idea that Simmons was simply holding back from playing because his relationship with the Sixers had been doomed after his famous offensive crash during last year’s playoffs. As it turned out, it was more than that: Simmons’ absence was due to physical and mental health issues that ultimately prevented him from playing a minute in Brooklyn this season.

Yes, in the long run, the Nets may have something in the Simmons acquisition. With that said, being forced to make a Harden deal and complacent with this particular return hurt Brooklyn’s chances of success this year.

Kyrie Irving

The main reason Harden was fed up with his situation in Brooklyn? Well, it couldn’t be helped that he had to deal with the endless circus that was Irving’s battle with New York City. It turns out that the Covid-19 restrictions in New York prevented unvaccinated players from playing home games at Barclays Center, making it impossible for Irving to play in Brooklyn for most of the regular season. During many important matches, Irving was a spectator.

Kyrie Irving: “I feel like I let the team down when I can’t play… It’s a nuisance sometimes.”

— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) 26 April 2022

Many other players – regardless of their personal beliefs – will get the vaccine, especially when it hurts their team’s chances of winning the championship. After all, the Irving involved is one of the most dangerous players in the entire league.

Irving, for his own reasons, refused to make such a sacrifice for his teammates. If you’re wondering if this could be the reason Harden ended up forcing his way out of town, well that’s conventional wisdom even though there’s never been any recorded confirmation from Harden himself. One person who thinks the issue is affecting the season is, well, Kyrie Irving. “According to me [my vaccine status] sometimes it’s a nuisance,” said the point guard after Monday’s loss to the Celtics. “And as you can see, we’ve just had some drastic changes.”

Kevin Durant is injured

So the Nets were without Irving for much of the game, Harden in Philadelphia and Simmons on the bench. It was up to Durant to help carry most of the team’s burden. Unfortunately, Durant picked up an MCL injury on January 15 and was out for over a month and a half (KD wasn’t the only Nets player to miss time, Joe Harris’ season was marred by an ankle injury).

When Durant returned, he was forced to serve to drag the Nets into seventh which would require them to win a play-in game just to reach the playoffs. By the time the playoffs began, Durant was starting to feel the effects of the heavy minutes he played towards the end of the regular season.

It wasn’t a complete excuse for the early struggle against Boston – especially since the Celtics lost early center Robert Williams for the first two games of the series – but it couldn’t be helped. He had 39 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in Game 4, but at that point he was running empty-handed.

Steve Nash Sunday talks about burnout, and in particular Kevin Durant’s workload since his return.

Makes me wonder about the NBA leader in minutes played over the past month (Regular Season/Play-in/Playoffs).


(Durant spent over 40 minutes in 9 of his last 10 minutes.)

— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 25, 2022

Steve Nash

Steve Nash has looked beyond his depth as a coach this season. Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

The Nets have a habit of hiring mascots instead of head coaches: let’s not forget that they brought in Jason Kidd just one season after he retired as a player. So it’s no surprise that they handed Hall of Famer Steve Nash the keys to the team in September 2020 even though he’s never even been in the NBA. assistant previous coach.

Nets players cheered on Nash the Monday night after their season ended, but sometimes during these sweeps, Nash looked more like a babysitter than a coach. With his team trailing 2-0 and facing crucial Game 3, Nash seems allergic to timeouts and designs the game, hoping that his vet will stumble into the correct course of action himself. They mostly don’t.

After Nash’s signing, Irving responded to the news with glee, “I don’t really see us having a ‘head’ coach.” Maybe not the most polite statement in the world, but Nash has done little to prove his point guard wrong this postseason.

Boston Celtics

However, it’s hard to know what Nash could have done given how thoroughly the Celtics beat his team. While the dysfunction in Brooklyn has made headlines, Boston should have been liked from the start.

Having stumbled through the first half of the season with first-time head coach Ime Udoka still learning on the job after impressive internships under Gregg Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs and Nash himself with the Nets, the team being healthy, Udoka came into place. themselves and the Celtics finally found their identity.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown learn to play with each other again. After being promoted to the starting point guard position, Marcus Smart emerged as the NBA Defending Player of the Year … and the rest of his team wasn’t far behind. The Celtics were the best defensive team in the league in the second half of the regular season, and neither bowed in the offensive end either. Given the chance to win in the final game of the season and avoid facing Durant and Irving in the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics went full strength against the Memphis Grizzlies B team to snatch the second seed from the East team.

They accepted the challenge because they knew they could beat the Nets in their own way. By betting on themselves, not only did the Celtics avenge their loss to the Nets in last year’s playoffs, but they may also have sent the entire Brooklyn organization back on the drawing board.

From superteams to superflops: who was to blame for the Nets playoff loss? | Brooklyn Nets

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