The Brooklyn Nets sit as the No. 10 seed in the East at 40-38, and their goal over the final four games of the regular season is to win enough to jump up to the No. 8 seed. Whether they reach that goal or not, the Nets will have to fight their way out of the play-in just to make the playoffs.
Not exactly the season Brooklyn envisioned.
When assessing blame for what went wrong, most people quickly point at James Harden and his efforts to force his way out of town (which worked), or maybe Kyrie Irving and his refusal to get vaccinated causing lineup disruptions. However, Kevin Durant looked at himself and said his injury changed everything.
Kevin Durant: “To be honest, I feel like our season was de-railed by my injury … when we’re all on the floor together, I like what we got.” pic.twitter.com/ptYeyhaD18
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 4, 2022
“To be honest, I feel like our season was derailed by my injury. So I’m not looking at it like we’re just not a good basketball team. It’s like there wasn’t a lot of continuity with me and Kyrie out of the lineup, that’s just what it is. When we’re all on the floor together, I like what we got.”
On the day Kevin Durant sprained his MCL, the Nets were 27-15 and sitting in second place in the East. Durant had played at an MVP level to carry an Irving-less team to that point. The Nets proceeded to go 5-16 in the 21 games Durant missed.
Which is to say, Durant is not totally wrong here, his injury was a turning point in the Brooklyn season.
However, this was supposed to be a three-superstar team that had the depth to survive the loss of one of them during the regular season. That’s where things went sideways. Irving was out because of his choices, and Harden had one foot out the door and was not playing like vintage Harden (and he hasn’t consistently in Philly, either). Ben Simmons has yet to suit up for the Nets, and Steve Nash said Monday he would not during the play-in.
Durant, when healthy, has lived up to this promise and more with this team, it was everyone around him who did not.