The Brooklyn Nets entered the 2021-22 NBA season as overwhelming favorites to win the title, but their start to the season has been a rocky one.
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While they remain third in the Eastern Conference with a 10-5 record, they have faltered when coming up the league’s best teams with tonight’s 117-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors adding to defeats at the hands of the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
Following the loss, head coach Steve Nash conceded the Nets still have some work to do to be considered among the league’s best teams, despite being led by two of the game’s best players in Kevin Durant and James Harden.
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“I just don’t think we’re in that category yet,” Nash told reporters. “We got a lot of work to do…I think the guys have been great as far as buying into what we want to do defensively. No one would have picked us as a top-10 defense to start the year.”
Steve Nash doesn’t see the Nets in the top-tier of NBA teams yet:
“We’ve got a lot of work to do…I think the guys have been great as far as buying into what we want to do defensively. No one would have picked us as a top-10 defense to start the year” pic.twitter.com/lxt2VdlWf2
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) November 17, 2021
Durant, who is leading the league in scoring at 28.9 points per game and firmly in the MVP conversation didn’t give too much weight to the 18-point loss at Barclays Center, putting the focus on the big picture.
“It’s just another game,” Durant told reporters.
“It’s 15 games into the season. Obviously, they’re the best team in the league and they’re playing at an elite level, but it’s a regular-season game. We obviously want to go out there and win in front of our home crowd, but we not going to put too much pressure on ourselves and call this a Finals match.”
Kevin Durant isn’t buying into the hype of Warriors-Nets on Tuesday:
“It’s a regular season game. We obviously want to go out there and win in front of our home crowd, but we’re not gonna put too much pressure on ourselves and call this a Finals matchup” pic.twitter.com/edo0QscHRL
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) November 15, 2021
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The elephant in the room is the continued absence of star guard Kyrie Irving, who is yet to suit up for the Nets this season due to his unvaccinated status, which does not comply with New York’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, meaning he is unable to play.
Coupled with that, the Nets are also without shooting guard Joe Harris, due to a left ankle sprain, while Paul Millsap missed his second-straight game due to personal reasons. Harris’ absence forced Nash into some lineup changes, bringing Patty Mills into the starting lineup.
“I think offensively we have all these different lineups, different backgrounds, styles of play. 10 new players on our team, it takes time,” Nash added.
“We started the year with a continuity plan from last year that got thrown out the window honestly when Kyrie [Irving] didn’t come back, so we’re trying to build and figure it out. When you play a really good defense it really tests you. I think tonight it was a great lesson for us that we got to double down on some of our principles when the going gets tough.”
The Nets will look to bounce back in 24 hours when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at Barclays Center.