Even with potential first-round exit, Nets' season wouldn't be total failure

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kevin Durant Andre Drummond Kyrie Irving cropped 4/20/22
Kevin Durant Andre Drummond Kyrie Irving cropped 4/20/22

With the Nets looking at an 0-2 hole to overcome in their first round series against the Boston Celtics, the schadenfreude among onlookers is already bubbling.

It’s understandable why this particular contender isn’t uber popular among some NBA fans. However, talk of this potentially quick exit being embarrassing or a complete failure is overblown.

This isn’t to make excuses. Heads will roll if this turns out to be a sweep or five-game scrubbing, and for good reason. For any team boasting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two of the greatest players we’ll ever see, not winning a championship falls below their standard.

That said, this result shouldn’t be shocking, either.

For starters, Boston entered the series as the best team in the league over the second half of the season. They closed the year 26-6, with a leading point-differential that nearly doubled their closest competitor.

They are by any objective measure the better team, even if they don’t have the best player in the series.

Brooklyn closed their season 12-5, a decent stretch that earned them a favorable play-in spot, but displayed mixed performances against the league’s stronger foes. It may already be out of people’s memories, but their path to that point included injuries, massive roster shake ups, key role players washing up and Irving’s constantly fluctuating status.

Consider Brooklyn’s most-played unit through two games against Boston: Irving, Durant, Bruce Brown, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. They only appeared in nine games together this season, playing a total of 135 minutes, which they’re en route to match should this series go seven games. Hoping they would somehow click behind the stardom of Irving and Durant was a fair assessment, but falling short to a superior opponent should’ve been equally expected.

Track down many of the series previews published and most experts said as much, deeming this Boston’s to lose. The oddsmakers also gave the Celtics a slight edge. This 2-0 hole may paint the picture of a more one-sided battle than expected, but that isn’t reality.

After winning game one by a last-second layup, the Celtics' defense pulled out game two despite being down 17 at one point. Rough losses for Brooklyn to be sure, but hardly cakewalks for their elite opponents. We could easily be looking at a 2-0 Nets lead right now.

None of the above serve as excuses, and much should be in question, including some of head coach Steve Nash’s decision-making and glaring holes in the rotation. Would Ben Simmons have made a difference? Difficult to say with him not playing NBA basketball in a whole year.

Yet a narrative appears to be prematurely forming before a game three, let alone a series loss, labeling this Nets season an abject failure. Because Durant couldn’t pull off a Bucks series-level miracle once again? Or James Harden forcing himself out?

Durant is signed to a long-term extension, and Irving promised to remain in the black-and-white. This year is far from do-or-die, and while a first-round loss would certainly be disappointing, it’s no referendum on the franchise or its stars.