Jeff Green, the Nets “voice of reason” and veteran leader, wants to make it known that the Nets aren’t going to looking for excuses no matter what circumstances or bumps Brooklyn faces along the way.
“This is a no-excuse team,” Green said following the loss to the Dallas Mavericks. “If you are on the floor, you are going to play as hard as you can. They just got the best of us tonight and they got the win. That’s all it really was. It’s not about us running out of gas. We just didn’t come ready to play and they won.”
The Nets have indeed suffered various “bumps” during the season heading into All-Star break, highlighted by those experienced by two of their star players.
Kevin Durant has missed a total of eight games due to the league’s health and safety protocols. In addition, Durant suffered an injury setback due to a left hamstring strain that will rule him out throughout the All-Star break, including the game itself.
Prior to Saturday’s loss against Dallas, Durant had missed six games due to his left hamstring strain and had missed nine of the team’s last 10 games because of the hamstring and health and safety protocols.
Kyrie Irving has missed 11 games for the Nets this season due to an extended personal absence along with “right shoulder injury recovery,” aka rest.
Steve Nash believes Irving’s right shoulder ‘maintenance’ is not a long-term thing. He believes he will return in Brooklyn’s remaining two games before the All-Star break.
“I think it’s maintenance. He knows his body. He discussed it with us and he has a history with that shoulder,” Nash said. “We’re just taking the necessary precautions to keep up the maintenance with that shoulder, but I don’t think it’s anything more than that so I’d expect him to play next game, and if not, I don’t think this is a thing that’ll linger into the All-Star break.”
On top of the Nets two superstars, the Nets were without Nicolas Claxton, who missed Brooklyn’s first 32 games due to right knee tendinopathy as well as Tyler Johnson who;s missed a handful of games due to contact-tracing and other minor injuries, which included a migraine that sidelined the Nets point guard in Saturday’s loss.
With all of that and two trades, one on Draft Night and the one in mid-January that produced James Harden, 23 players have donned the Nets various uniforms this season. (The franchise record is 26.) Only one player, Joe Harris, has played in every game.
Harden, who has played MVP level basketball since joining Brooklyn, relayed the same message as Green following the loss to the Mavericks.
“We just got to play better that’s it. Whoever is in the lineup and suited up has to be better and that starts with me. Players assess their own body if they can go out and compete and whoever’s out there on the floor or suited up has to be ready to go.”
Nash has expressed that this season will be like no other since training camp, foreseeing various obstacles that can arrive due to a regular-season and playoffs being played during a pandemic and not in a “bubble. “ The Nets head coach referred to Saturday’s loss as frustrating but as he has throughout the season, Nash noted how missing key players, along with late scratches, is the nature of the business this season.
“Frustrating but that’s the nature of this season. We have said that time and time again. We are going to have all sorts of nights where we are going to mix and match and play different things and tonight, we weren’t quite good enough,” Nash said.
Along with various road bumps, the Nets are continuing to fill out their roster as the team looks to win it all. Brooklyn currently has three players (Iman Shumpert, Andre Roberson, and Tyler Cook) on 10-day deals as the team remains flexible due to their foreseeable activity at the buyout-free agent market.
Despite facing various obstacles, the Nets have proved to be one, if not, the most dangerous team in the league holding a record of 22-13, sitting a half-game back from the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference standings ... and coming off what was the NBA’s longest winning streak.