From superteam to superflops: who’s in charge for the Nets’ playoff humbling? | Brooklyn Nets

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The Brooklyn Nets started this season as many specialists’ favorites to achieve the NBA finals from the Jap Convention. As an alternative, they had been swept by the Boston Celtics within the first-round of the playoffs. All that’s left now could be to attempt to determine what went incorrect in Brooklyn.

The James Harden commerce

The Nets started this season with a Large Three: a theoretically wholesome Kevin Durant, a theoretically on-the-court Kyrie Irving and a one-time NBA MVP in James Harden, who was acquired the earlier January in a commerce with the Houston Rockets. It was a high-risk transfer to deliver these gifted veterans collectively, on condition that that they had all fallen out with their earlier franchises.

To no one’s shock, the trio didn’t final, and it was Harden who left. With their choices restricted in getting a possible influence All-Star in a Harden deal, they organized a malcontent swap with the Philadelphia 76ers, which introduced them again tremendously gifted, defense-first large man Ben Simmons.

The Nets’ gamble was based mostly upon the concept Simmons was solely holding out from enjoying as a result of his relationship with the Sixers had disintegrated after his notorious offensive collapse throughout final yr’s playoffs. Because it seems, it was greater than that: Simmons’s absence was as a result of each bodily and psychological well being points that in the end prevented him from enjoying a single minute in Brooklyn this season.

Sure, in the long term, the Nets could have one thing within the Simmons acquisition. With that stated, being compelled to make the Harden deal and settling with this specific return harm Brooklyn’s probabilities of success this yr.

Kyrie Irving

The primary purpose Harden was fed up along with his scenario in Brooklyn? Properly, it couldn’t assist that he was coping with the countless circus that was Irving’s battle with the Metropolis of New York. It seems that New York’s Covid-19 restrictions meant that unvaccinated gamers couldn’t play house video games at Barclays Heart, making it inconceivable for Irving to play in Brooklyn for a lot of the common season. Throughout many essential video games, Irving was a spectator.

Kyrie Irving: “I really feel like I used to be letting the group down once I wasn’t capable of play… It grew to become a distraction at occasions.”

— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) April 26, 2022

Loads of different gamers – regardless of their private beliefs – would have merely gotten the vaccine, particularly when it was hurting their group’s probabilities of successful a championship. In any case, an engaged Irving is likely one of the most harmful gamers in the complete league.

Irving, for his personal causes, refused to make any such sacrifice for his teammates. In the event you’re questioning if this might have been the explanation that Harden finally compelled his method out of city, nicely that’s the standard knowledge though there’s by no means been on-the-record affirmation from Harden himself. One man who does suppose the problem affected the season although is, nicely, Kyrie Irving. “I believe [my vaccine status] grew to become a distraction at occasions,” stated the purpose guard after Monday’s loss to the Celtics. “And as you see we simply had some drastic modifications.”

Kevin Durant was harm

So the Nets had been with out Irving for a lot of video games, Harden was in Philadelphia and Simmons was on the bench. It was all as much as Durant to assist shoulder a big share of the group’s burdens. Sadly, Durant suffered an MCL damage on 15 January and was lacking for over a month and a half (KD was not the one Nets participant to overlook time, Joe Harris’s season was ruined by an ankle damage).

When Durant returned, he was pressed into service to pull the Nets right into a seventh-place end that required them to win a play-in recreation simply to make the playoffs. By the point the playoffs began, Durant was beginning to really feel the results of the heavy minutes he was enjoying close to the tip of the common season.

That’s not a whole excuse for his early struggles towards Boston – particularly because the Celtics had been lacking beginning middle Robert Williams for the primary two video games of the collection – however it couldn’t have helped. He managed 39 factors, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in Sport 4, however by that time he was operating on empty.

Steve Nash Sunday was speaking about fatigue, and particularly Kevin Durant’s workload since coming again.

Made me marvel in regards to the NBA leaders in minutes performed over the past month (Common Season/Play-in/Playoff).

Go determine.

(Durant’s gone over 40 minutes in 9 of his final 10.)

— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 25, 2022

Steve Nash

Steve Nash looked out of his depth as a coach at times this season
Steve Nash appeared out of his depth as a coach at occasions this season. {Photograph}: Brad Penner/USA As we speak Sports activities

The Nets have a behavior of hiring mascots reasonably than head coaches: let’s not overlook that they introduced in Jason Kidd simply the season after he retired as a participant. So, it wasn’t stunning that they handed Corridor of Famer Steve Nash the keys to the group in September 2020 despite the fact that he had by no means even been an NBA assistant coach earlier than.

Nets gamers had been supportive of Nash on Monday night time after their season ended however at occasions throughout this sweep, Nash appeared extra like a babysitter than a coach. Together with his group down 2-0 and dealing with an important Sport 3, Nash appeared allergic to calling timeouts and designing performs, hoping that his vets would stumble into the correct plan of action on their very own. They principally didn’t.

Upon Nash’s hiring, Irving famously responded to the information with a blithe, “I don’t actually see us having a ‘head’ coach.” Possibly not probably the most well mannered assertion on the earth, however Nash did little to show his level guard incorrect throughout this postseason.

The Boston Celtics

Nonetheless, it’s laborious to know what Nash might have executed given how totally the Celtics outplayed his group. Whereas the dysfunction in Brooklyn has captured the headlines, Boston ought to have been favored from the beginning.

After stumbling by the primary half of the season with first-time head coach Ime Udoka nonetheless studying on the job after a formidable internship beneath Gregg Popovich on the San Antonio Spurs and Nash himself with the Nets, the group received wholesome, Udoka got here into his personal and the Celtics lastly discovered their id.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown realized to play with one another once more. Upon being elevated to the start line guard place, Marcus Sensible emerged because the NBA Defensive Participant of the 12 months … and the remainder of his group weren’t far behind. The Celtics had been the very best defensive group within the league within the common season’s second half, and no slouches on the offensive finish both. Given the possibility to tank within the ultimate recreation of the season and keep away from dealing with Durant and Irving within the first spherical of the playoffs, the Celtics performed at full power towards a Memphis Grizzlies B-squad to seize the East’s second seed.

They took on the problem as a result of they knew that they might beat the Nets on their very own phrases. By betting on themselves, the Celtics not solely avenged their loss to the Nets in final yr’s playoffs, however they might even have despatched Brooklyn’s whole group again to the drafting board.

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