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What happened to the Brooklyn Nets?

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

What happened to the Brooklyn Nets?

Great question.

Well, for starters, they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. They also lost Kyrie Irving to an eventual season-ending injury in Game 4. Oh, and James Harden essentially played on one leg for most of these series. And, one more thing; Kevin Durant played like the best player in the world and came a toe away from sending the Nets to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Yeah, all that happened.

Joe Harris, the best three-point shooter in the NBA this season shot just 32.7 percent from three vs. Milwaukee. And James Harden (yes, I know, on one leg) had 24 assists to 12 turnovers, and had a 37.5 effective field goal percentage against the Bucks. Nicolas Claxton, who had the team’s highest ORtg (134) and second lowest DRtg (91) in this series, played just 64 minutes across the seven games.

Those things also happened.

It’s not all doom and gloom for these Nets. Not at all. “All things considered,” the Nets almost beat (arguably) the top remaining contender left in these NBA Playoffs; came so, so close. And that should be celebrated. Lightly.

Steve Nash noted the team’s fatigue during Games 6 and 7. It’s hard to argue that the short-handed, hobbled Nets weren’t fatigued.

“I think we had some fatigue, but we missed a couple of open looks and then didn’t make some really difficult ones and they made theirs,” said Nash on the closing minutes in overtime. “There’s nothing in it. Just couldn’t get it done but at that point in the game, guys are fatigued and at the end of seven games and overtime, it’s a flip of a coin.”

I think the argument against fatigue, if there is one, is that both teams’ key players planed a ton, ton, ton of minutes. Fatigue goes both ways.

So do wide-open missed shots.

Just ask Joe Harris:

“I’m disappointed. I wish that I played better. There’s a lot of things where you can go back and be a tough critic on yourself but at the same time, you got to bring more to the table than just one thing. I wish I shot more efficiently, help alleviate some of the pressure other guys were facing, but this is the situation that we’re in. Frankly, if I played better, we might be in a little bit of a different spot,” said Harris on his disappointing performances in the series.

Let’s also ask Jrue Holiday, who shot 36.1 percent from the floor and 26.1 percent (twenty-six point one) from three against the Nets:

“I’ve been in this league long enough to know that sometimes you’re going to hit shots, sometimes you’re not, sometimes the game’s not going to go your way,” Holiday said. “You can’t be timid, especially in a Game 7.

“I feel like my teammates trust in me to take those shots and knock ‘em down. So I really have to be confident and know that if I’m doing the right things … they’re going to end up falling.”

How about that? Of course hindsight is 20-20, but there’s definitely a range of confidence in those two statements.

Could you make the case that Harris let the mental part of the game beat him? How about him taking four fewer shots that Kyrie Irving in this series, while playing 120+ more minutes than Irving.

Yes, Irving is a bulk shooter and Harris picks his spots, but when you pull the team’s second/third best player from this roster (and have the “other guy,” Harden, play on one leg) you have to shoot your team into the next round of the playoffs.

Harris can’t (or, couldn’t) play like the 4th best player on this Nets team when they are already down one-and-a-half superstars.

Sean Marks?

“I think we have to be careful at ‘what you have done for me lately?’ Joe has been a stronghold here for the entire time I’ve been here. I’ve watched him grow. I’ve watched him develop. He’s a huge part of this culture and driving it. We owe a lot of that to who Joe is as a person both on and off the court,” said Marks. “Yes, am I disappointed, for sure but I can not be more disappointed in Joe than he’s already in himself. I know that. He’s taking this tough and difficult and hard and I know he’ll be back to being Joe and shooting lights out that he’s always has been for us.”

The Nets GM said there’s really “no comment” on Harris’ future with the team while backing that up with support for the longest-tenured Net.

Fair point. Be careful, but be critical.

Do we blame Joe Harris for losing this series? No, not solely. There’s additional blame to go around and also plenty of happenstance.

What happened to the Nets?

Bad luck, bad basketball, bad coaching...that makes for one hell of a recipe for disaster. Oh, and they played a Bucks team with three All-Stars and one two-time league MVP.

Yeeesh.

It wasn’t a disaster, though. It was a coin flip, as Nash noted. A seven game series that came down to a coin flip.

You got to admit, though, that’s not making anyone feel any better.

Stupid coins.

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