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An end to ‘noise?’ With 11-game winning streak, Nets look forward to 2023

Brooklyn Nets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Has “noise” been replaced by “vibes?”

After a year of ups and downs as well as disappointment, controversy, even anger — the “noise” — the Nets are in a better place and we’re not just talking about their place in the standings. The “vibes” around the team are good. Take last night’s post-game celebration of Edmond Sumner’s 27th birthday...

Of course winning and good vibes mostly go together. And whatever the Nets were doing in 2022 — it wasn’t winning in the broad sense — is never that far away. But we will take it. As Kevin Durant laid out post-game, the Brooklyn Nets went through a lot last season.

“Just when we came back for this season, it was a lot of talk in the summertime,” Durant said. “But for us to able to bring the group back together to start the year was cool. And then once Jacque [Vaughn] became a coach and we started to move forward then, obviously that was a turning point for us.

“Then we have some stuff that wasn’t ideal: Guys out of the lineup, Kyrie out of the lineup, James Harden demanding a trade. There’s a lot of stuff that we went through how we started the year from outside perspective, the noise around our team. So it’s good that we could be about ball going into this New Year. And we’re playing a solid brand right now. So that’s the most important thing.”

That litany, of course, is only the study guide for what happened. The details were even worse with KD demanding a trade, Kyrie Irving becoming embroiled in an antisemitism controversy and the bizarre controversy over Ben Simmons back issues.

Still, the face of the franchise says some strengths emerged along the way.

“It was one of those years you reflect on and you see the turning points in the organization,” Durant said. “We’ve seen different moments that brought us together as a group. You see, at this point now towards the end of the year, you start to see us come together and perform what we’ve been looking to do these last couple of years, which was a solid team that plays hard every night. So we went through a lot in this calendar year, but we’re looking for bigger and better things in 2023.”

Irving credited a lot of the turnaround to the demeanor of their head coach who is now 22-7 after taking over from Steve Nash.

“He gives you an ease,” Irving said. “When you come into the locker room nothing’s forced, he’s not too high or too low. He’s just holding himself to a high standard, exemplifying what a leader should look like. So as our head coach, as our leader, I’ve been able to learn some things from him.

“And that’s just being able to have relationships with everybody and being able to get the best out of everybody. And that’s been a lesson for me; I felt like this year was just learning how to get the best out of everybody instead of trying to do it all yourself or trying to overthink the game. We’ve got good pieces in that locker room, a good coaching staff. The level of play should raise and it should get easier.”

Of course, relatively good health has helped. Neither KD nor Kyrie have missed any significant time due to injury or illness ... and the bench has filled in ably for others whether it’s Yuta Watanabe supplying 3-point shooting or T.J. Warren showing off his all-around game.

For Simmons, who sat out last year, the change has been more sweeping. In his analysis of things, noise has been replaced by poise.

“A lot of ups and downs,” Simmons said. “I don’t know. I don’t know how to even sum it up. Basketball-wise I think it’s been great. Start of the year we had some different expectations, a lot of noise, a lot of different things going on, but I think we had a lot of poise with this season and with all the different things going on so it’s been an eventful year.”

Simmons also explained that poise is critical to winning big.

“It’s not getting too carried away knowing we have a long year and guys understand that,” added Simmons. “My experiences in Philly, we had a young team and we had guys who are not used to being in the league for that long, and not knowing how to win and not knowing it’s not easy to win.

“We have a lot of vets on the team, Ky, Kev, guys like that and understanding it’s game-by-game and not getting too carried away with the noise, which has been great.”

Of course, it could be argued that the Nets troubles in 2022 were mainly related to Ky and Kev, but we’ll put that aside for now. It’s a new year and things are good, very good.