The Brooklyn Nets dropped their fourth straight game on Sunday. During the game Nets superstar Kevin Durant was heard on the broadcast trash talking former Celtic Glen “Big Baby” Davis for getting caught sitting in the wrong seats. And following the game, Kyrie Irving referred to the booing Boston Celtics fans as a scorned girlfriend. All hilarious and in good fun, but these aren’t the kind of shots the Nets should be taking.
Big Baby Davis tried to finesse better seats 😂 pic.twitter.com/wIZzswDFNx
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 6, 2022
Get these jokes off Kyrie.
"I know it's going to be like that for the rest of my career, coming in here. It's like the scorned girlfriend – wants an explanation on why I left but still hoping for a text back. I'm just like, 'it's fun while it lasted.'"
– Kyrie Irving on his relationship with Celtics fans pic.twitter.com/5XQ6vfDp9d
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) March 6, 2022
The reality is the Brooklyn Nets are running out of time. At 32-33 the Nets are in a three-way tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. There are 17 games left in the season, and KD just returned from injury, Irving still can’t play home games due to the NYC vaccine mandate, and new acquisition Ben Simmons still hasn’t ramped up to high intensity practice.
Despite all of that the Nets have the fourth-best odds to win the title, according to Las Vegas, at +650. Tied with the Philadelphia 76ers, ahead of the Miami Heat, Celtics and Utah Jazz. All teams with better records and aNET ratings than the Nets.
But, hey, the people like Brooklyn!
The game against the Celtics on Sunday showed both why the Nets are still viewed as favorites and why they’re flawed.
The Celtics have the best chance (17 percent) of winning the NBA Finals according to FiveThirtyEight, and they needed 54 points from Jayson Tatum to beat a Nets team that has the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Boston has the No. 1-ranked defense in the league and gave up 120 points to Brooklyn.
When you have KD and Kyrie there’s always a chance. Those two brilliant players can render elite defenses helpless. The Nets’ problem is they are light on perimeter defense and they’re a small team. So despite their brilliance on offense, they didn’t have enough size to put on Tatum.
The Nets’ starting lineup on Sunday featured three players 6’3 and shorter in Irving, Seth Curry and Bruce Brown. KD and Andre Drummond are 7-0 and 6-10, respectively, but Drummond can’t switch out onto wing players.
Conversely, the smallest player the Celtics started was Marcus Smart at 6 feet 4. They had size across the board. This is where the Nets miss Simmons.
At 6 feet 10 and elite defensively, Simmons can switch one through five. In their best version, the Nets start Simmons, KD, Irving, Curry and Patty Mills. They’re still small, but Simmons cleans up a lot of mistakes. If they want more defense they swap out Mills for rookie Kessler Edwards, who while a rookie is 6 feet 7 competes on defense and shoots 35 percent from three.
The Nets could also go “big” and play Nic Claxton, Simmons and KD in the frontcourt, but then you have two non-shooters on the floor. In the playoffs that will get exploited.
No matter how you look at it, there are things to like on this Nets team. But there are too many things out of their control that they need to break favorably in order to make a serious Finals run.
More news from our partners: