Sports

Nets got it all wrong and paid for it with NBA playoff flop

Remember the Brooklyn Nets because the worst group money might purchase. Remember them as an ill-fitting set of big-name ballplayers who have been anticipated to win a championship and then face-planted within the first spherical, failing to win even one playoff sport.

The Nets made the 2022 Celtics appear like the 1986 Celtics. Boston made a mockery of the notion that, as a surging two-seed within the East, it got a most unfortunate bounce by drawing what was marketed as essentially the most harmful seven seed within the historical past of American sports activities.

Unlucky? Not precisely. That leprechaun Kyrie Irving stepped on final year got its candy revenge this time round. The Nets weren’t simply too small and too disorganized to keep away from getting swept by the Celtics. By any honest measure of their very own phrases, additionally they lacked the aggressive coronary heart worthy of a authentic contender.

Steve Nash stated they didn’t have the required depth in Game 2. Blake Griffin stated they didn’t have the required spirit in Game 3. Nash stated they didn’t have the required sturdiness in Game 4.

“Maybe they ran out of gas,” the coach stated of his gamers.

They ran out of solutions too. What an epic catastrophe. What a becoming finish to a New York basketball season that began with a lot promise, and ended with this most resounding thud.

A year after their stirring revival, the Knicks couldn’t even make the play-in match. A year after practically reaching the convention closing with one wholesome star, the Nets couldn’t even make it to Game 5 in Round 1.

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Kevin Durant sulks through the Nets’ loss to the Celtics on Monday.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

They made it attention-grabbing on the finish Monday evening, in case you can name a routine endgame flurry by a trailing residence group attention-grabbing. The Nets gave their followers means too little, means too late.

Nash stated he was “proud of our guys for the fight after everything we went through.” Sure, the Nets endured Kevin Durant’s harm and the usual run-ins with COVID. But a few of that adversity Nash and some gamers cited was, nicely, self-imposed.

The fallout from the Nets’ headache-for-headache commerce of James Harden for Ben Simmons? That was on them. They acquired Harden understanding all about his high-maintenance methods, then couldn’t hold him completely happy sufficient for one full season.

Of higher consequence, Irving might have met the town’s mandate and gotten vaccinated and performed a ton greater than the 29 regular-season video games he performed.

And but there was Irving on Monday evening, after Boston’s clinching 116-1112 victory, speaking about how the season “was just a heavy lift for us” and how “it’s hard to just turn the switch on and just be like, ‘All right, we’re a great team today.’ … Guys are in and out of the lineup.”

Irving admitted that he felt he was letting down his group when he was out, however it’s too late for that remorse now. He had management of how usually he was in and out of Brooklyn’s lineup, and he made a alternative that he can take into consideration all summer season.

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The Nets huddle up throughout Game 4 on Monday evening.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

His employers have loads to consider too, together with whether or not to speculate a loopy quantity of money in a long-term Irving extension. Good luck with that. But proprietor Joe Tsai and normal supervisor Sean Marks even have to look at their tradition of participant appeasement, and decide whether or not that must be dismantled.

The Nets have been stated to be floored with Simmons’ choice to skip Game 4 with a sore again (off a rehabbed herniated disk). Why ought to they’ve been so shocked by this growth when the group’s actions despatched Simmons a transparent message that his opt-out could be deemed acceptable, if not par for the course?

Brooklyn’s superstars didn’t need the ultra-competent Kenny Atkinson to be their coach, and Atkinson was made to vanish. Those identical superstars, with Durant as lead advocate, wished to place a novice, Nash, in cost, and Nash’s inexperience was a chief cause why Brooklyn was swept into oblivion.

Irving had his personal causes to take his numerous leaves over the previous two years, together with his opposition to the town’s mandate that originally value him an opportunity to play all residence video games — at the least till his bosses advised him to remain residence for highway video games too. The Nets have been broadly praised for making a noble stand, and for taking the battle to Irving for a change.

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Steve Nash
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

But when going through a manpower scarcity and a urgent must win some video games, the Nets uncovered their soulless core by abandoning their stance and inviting Irving again to work. And a season after the Big 2 turned the Big 3, a very disengaged Harden successfully advised the Nets they wanted to commerce him to Philadelphia or else. Voila, the Nets traded him to Philadelphia.

This all traces again to essentially the most overused phrase in sports activities — tradition. Every big-league group professes to have one, regardless that the true tradition membership over time could be diminished to Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots, Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs, Steve Kerr’s Golden State Warriors and possibly just a few others.

The Brooklyn Nets are positioned 1,000,000 miles south of that membership. “Too many things held us back,” Nash stated. And numerous these issues have been the Nets’ personal fault.

“We didn’t make any noise,” Durant stated, “but we got to the playoffs.”

Whoop-de-damn-do, to cite one well-known Nets ahead from the distant previous. And good riddance to a basketball group that wasn’t well worth the money or the hype.

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