Another View: The Collapse of the Brooklyn Nets

Another View: The Collapse of the Brooklyn Nets

Dylan Cambian, Editor

If you are a fan of the NBA  you have heard the news: The Brooklyn Nets – a team that was expected to make it to the finals in the beginning of the season, made an early exit in the playoffs. Apart from being the championship favorites for many people and NBA analysts, the Nets were also the drama favorites.

The expectations were high coming into the season for the Brooklyn Nets, a team built around three superstars: Kyrie Irving, an amazing point guard that has the ball on a string. James Harden, an electric shooting guard that is one of the league’s most elite scorers every season. Last, but definitely not least, Kevin Durant, a seven foot shooter that plays like a guard.

The three superstars have never played together before, apart from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for a handful of games in the previous season. Surely their pure talent would outweigh their inexperience of playing with each other. However, they only played 16 games together out of 116 games all on the same team. Injuries, vaccination issues, and leaves of absence are to blame for that.

James Harden struggled to stay healthy in the beginning of the 2022 season. Kyrie chose not to get the Covid-19 vaccination and because of New York’s mandate for athletes, he was not allowed to participate in anything with the team. Many times Kevin Durant found himself the only superstar player on the floor for the Nets.

Because of this inconsistency the Nets were fighting for a playoff spot throughout the season. Late into the season Kyrie was allowed to play in away games where there was no similar mandate like New York has. But even that was not enough to get the Nets into a good spot. This drama caused one of the stars to request a trade. James Harden was not happy with how the team was performing and requested a trade and on February 6, 2022 he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons.

A little while after this trade occurred, on March 7, 2022, the New York mandate was lifted and Kyrie was allowed to play in all games for Brooklyn. However, it was already late into the season and even with Irving back and Durant healthy, the team still struggled and fought for the seventh seed in the playoffs. It wasn’t the spot they hoped for, but the Nets would play the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Fans and analysts immediately thought that this would be a very close playoff series. 

Game 1 (in a 4 out of 7 series) ended with a game winner by the Celtic’s star Jason Tatum. Irving had 39 points and it looked like the series was going to go back and forth. Games 2, 3, and 4 were awful for the Nets. Kevin Durant and Kyrie both struggled immensely and the Celtics ended up sweeping the Nets four games to none.

Some will try to put the blame on Kyrie for choosing not to get vaccinated, but it can also be put on Kevin Durant with his poor performance. The one thing that is for sure is that no one expected the Nets to be first round exits, at least not in that fashion.