When the Brooklyn Nets went out to acquire Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, most fans were left to admit this season would be theirs. The Nets were willing to pay Durant not to play for a year because they knew exactly what they’d be getting from him this season. So far, the two-time NBA Finals MVP hasn’t given a single hint of his game being diminished on the back of his Achilles injury.
There was hope all around the team in the wake of the two major acquisitions yet no one could have imagined the Nets would get James Harden to join the title quest too. They also brought in Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge but the former San Antonio Spurs mad was forced to retire shortly after making the switch as he became aware of a heart issue.
There were questions over the appointment of Steve Nash as head coach. Nash, one of the best point guards to ever grace an NBA floor, is quite inexperienced as a coach as it’s his first job. The former superstar has done a great job up to this point, however.
“I’m a high school coach, and he’s got his arm around me and is willing to treat me like I have something that can help him,” assistant coach Mike D’Antoni told FOX Sports in a recent interview. “He treats everybody like they have value, from the superstars to the last guys on the bench to guys like me. It creates connections. That’s the thing those Phoenix teams had.”
While it’s hard to get multiple superstars on the same page, Nash has found a way. Harden, for all the criticism he’s received over being ball-dominant since he left the Oklahoma City Thunder, appears to be very much a team player since moving to Brooklyn.
“We value competitiveness and connectivity,” Nash said back in December.
“My message was personal pride, connectivity and coming together,” he said again after a loss this February.
“Basketball is about playing together and being the best you can be. No matter who you are, it’s about finding that connectivity.”
The Nets were 2-1 over the Milwaukee Bucks at the time of writing. The Bucks appeared keen on making it to the finals after getting tossed by the Miami Heat in the second round but the Nets don’t look ready to get out of their way. They’ve unfortunately lost Harden to a hamstring injury in Game 1 – the guard was forced off just 43 seconds into the contest and missed the following game. He has since been ruled out of Thursday night’s Game 3 despite MRIs showing no structural damage.
“I’m heartbroken for him,” Nash said after his team’s Game 1 win. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if he’s playing the next game, if he’s out. I have no idea. But I’m heartbroken for him that he had to miss tonight.”
Despite the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers both playing great basketball this postseason, the Nets look poised to go all the way, with or without Harden. They’re currently the Fox Bet favorites to win the Eastern Conference at 2/5. The bookmakers have the 76ers at 10/3, with the Bucks 7/1 and Hawks 20/1. Bettors could also find a Fox Bet review right here.
Brooklyn has a lot of analysts in their corner given the fact that they’re the favorites to come out of the East. However, Charles Barkley isn’t one of them and is making no secret of the fact that he’s against BK because he hates superteams.
“If they win it, they win it. But I want to make it perfectly clear – I’m rooting against those guys,” he told TMZ Sports. “I’m rooting against all superteams. I’m old school.”
Barkley added he would have preferred seeing the New York Knicks advance and is hoping they get better.
“The Brooklyn Nets got a much better team, but when they play it’s like a mausoleum,” he added “And they got a much better team. I want [the Knicks] because that place was on fire, and I’m hoping they keep getting better because that place was fire. I’ve been there when it’s been on fire.”
One can certainly see where Barkley is coming from. Basketball purists don’t mind dominant teams as long as they’re formed organically – the Golden State Warriors prior to their adding Kevin Durant, for example. However, it would be unfair to fault the Nets for building a team that gives them the best chance of winning a championship.