Kevin Durant key for the Nets in contention for a title
Creating miracles had apparently become Kevin Durant’s job over the past two weeks, but when his oversized feet tapped on the 3-point line in the dying moments of the settlement on Saturday night, it would be unfair to wait any longer.
Durant had nothing more to give in in overtime, but he brought back a necessary point even in the event of defeat, the greatest point of optimism even in the face of grief.
The greatest health risk on the Brooklyn Nets was the last man standing, sitting only for eight minutes in total in the last three games against the Milwaukee Bucks and looking quite like the best player on Earth – so much so, Giannis Antetokounmpo stated it twice last week.
The idea at the moment is simple: If Durant’s toes on tiptoe were behind the line, the hobbled Nets would likely be the favorites to win the title this season. Without a clear juggernaut, equality goes to the team with the best player. It’s Durant.
If James Harden was in better health or if Kyrie Irving hadn’t twisted his ankle earlier in the series, the Nets would likely host the Eastern Finals, but Durant might not have two more masterpieces. of 40 points in his ledger.
Irving is injured; it’s part of its history, so any team-building exercise should include the possibility or likelihood of running out of time. And this season, he has had the latitude to walk away from the team for personal reasons.
Harden’s case is trickier because he has been much more enduring than Irving historically. His hamstring injury that resurfaced in the playoffs caused him pain throughout the season, and perhaps could have stemmed from his lack of form to start the season when he acted to get the Houston Rockets trade him.
He will be 32 in August, and while it’s far from old, the future of the Nets needs to be watched.
What Sean Marks, Steve Nash needs to tackle this offseason
It’s one of the few issues GM Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash will need to sort out by the time this team returns to the playoffs next season, but they’re still in the championship conversation. .
And the number one reason is Kevin Durant, up and healthy two years after his Achilles tendon injury. He played half of the schedule, largely due to a conservative approach with his recovery. It will be hard to say if that will be the case next season, but given that he will be competing in the Olympics, it could be another slow build-up for him in training camp.
Marks said they would have a conversation with Durant about the Olympics, but they seem generally supportive.
“If his body is feeling good, and if he’s up for the task, you know, what a great opportunity to go play alongside a lot of his close friends and have a very, very unique experience,” said Marks Monday at the Nets. end of season press conference.
Nash’s inexperience on the sidelines has shown these playoffs several times, and that’s to be expected. Keeping a timeout in his pocket during overtime instead of giving a tired Durant a moment to catch his breath and his legs might haunt him all summer.
“It’s not that different being a player, you know, we’re going to look back on the year and the things that we did,” Nash said. “I like this part of the process. I like, you know, trying to be as curious and looking for as much information or clarity as possible to make decisions.
Funny to point the finger at karma and say it was the basketball gods that kept the fast Nets from winning it all on their first shot, but there were real basketball reasons, like the lack of depth. up front and the curious case of Joe Harris forgetting that he is. of the best shooters in the world. After Game 2, Harris was 7 for 31 of 3 and he was being tough on himself for missing so many wide-opening shots. The Nets sacrificed the depth they had built to get Harden and lost Spencer Dinwiddie to a partial ACL tear early in the season, so they were playing with no margin for error.
Then some errors occurred. Harris couldn’t shoot, Harden was playing on one leg and they relied heavily on Jeff Green and Blake Griffin to deliver a higher output than one would expect at this point in their careers.
“Yeah, I think we need to be careful what you’ve been doing for me lately,” Marks said. “Joe has been a stronghold here all the time I’m here and I’ve seen him grow, we’ve seen him develop, you know, he’s an integral part of this culture and driving it.”
Nets could be a haven for 2021-22 NBA season veterans
Harris is one of eight players on contract next season, and with so much space devoted to Durant, Irving and Harden, they’ll need to make some smart free agency decisions to rebuild the roster.
Of course, the veterans who end up being redeemed will look to the Nets for refuge. Griffin was a shining example, going from an ill-fitting appearance on a rebuilding Pistons roster to a seamless integration with the ambitious Nets.
Other free agents or future free agents will take note of this experience.
“I would like to say, the continuity of our group, bringing the whole group back, that will be great. Let’s go see if we can stay healthy and start over, ”Marks said. “But I also know it’s unrealistic at this point.”
Due to the irregular nature of this season and the fact that the Nets barely see their big plan come true, they will not be operating from a position of full knowledge.
But it will be that of strength, it is the advantage of having the best player in the game, motivated and still in the prime of life.
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