Nets Trying To Get By Without Kevin Durant
Without superstar Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in a slump and in great danger of having to fight for a playoff berth via the play-in tournament.
Durant suffered a knee injury during the Nets’ 120-105 home win against the New Orleans Pelicans. It was later announced that Durant suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee and will be out of action for four-to-six weeks.
The Nets were sitting pretty at 27-15 after their win over the Pelicans. But the offense has predictably regressed with Durant sidelined. After the win against New Orleans, Brooklyn proceeded to lose five of their next seven games without KD.
The upcoming schedule does Brooklyn no favors whatsoever. Road contests against the Utah Jazz (Feb. 4) and Denver Nuggets (Feb. 6) await. They meet the Boston Celtics twice this month, and road games against the Miami Heat (Feb. 12) and Milwaukee Bucks (Feb. 26) are on the table.
Despite their recent slump the Nets still have the best 2022 NBA Championship odds. Nets fans can get up to $1,000 in risk-free bets if they sign up for an account at BetMGM New York.
Although the Nets remain in contention for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, a prolonged slump could push them closer to the play-in tournament. Anything can happen in just one game, so it’s imperative that Kyrie Irving, James Harden and especially the bench players really step up during KD’s absence.
Second Half Predictions: Nets Find Groove In Second Half, Claim No. 4 Seed
When the Nets have the big three of Harden, Irving and Durant together, they’re by far the NBA’s toughest team to stop.
If Irving was healthy for the entire second round series against Milwaukee last year, the Nets could have very well gone on to win the 2021 NBA Championship.
Though Durant will remain out for several more weeks, the Nets fortunately got off to a strong start before his injury. They just need to play around .500 basketball until he returns.
And when KD returns to the court? A manageable schedule over the final five weeks should help the Nets regain their top form and claim a top-four seed in the East.
The Heat will finish as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls. Brooklyn will finish 49-33 and claim home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
Playoff Predictions: Nets Lose To Suns In NBA Finals
This year’s Nets have plenty of similarities to the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers: They entered the season as the heavy favorites to win the NBA Championship.
The dynastic Lakers —led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal — added a pair of future Hall of Famers in Gary Payton and Karl Malone. But the Lakers’ core players spent limited time together throughout the regular season, and they “only” finished as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference with a 56-26 record.
Those Lakers finally found their form in the playoffs and cruised to the NBA Finals, though they were dispatched by the underdog Detroit Pistons in five games.
This year’s Nets, like the 2003-04 Lakers, were the popular pick to win the NBA Championship. But like the 2003-04 Lakers, they’ve only had their top stars available for a limited quantity of games.
For the Nets, it shouldn’t really matter which seed they finish, as we saw with the 2003-04 Lakers.
They are the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference when Durant, Harden and Irving are on the court together. Even if they only have home advantage for one playoff round, it’s hard not to like their chances of getting back to the NBA Finals.
The early prediction here is that the Nets will meet the Phoenix Suns (last year’s runner-ups) in the 2022 NBA Finals. But Irving is not eligible for home games at this time, and the Suns bolster enough skill, speed and overall star power to match up with Nets.
Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton can go head-to-head with Brooklyn’s big three. When all is said and done, the Suns will take down the Nets in six games to claim their first ever NBA title.
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