Kyrie Irving: Nets start new mantra after star takes issue with losing close games

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 20: Kevin Durant #7 James Harden #13 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 20: Kevin Durant #7 James Harden #13 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets polished off yet another victory against one of the better teams in the league, handling Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers after the trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving combined for 90 points, with Irving’s 39 leading the way. The win pushed Brooklyn to 9-0 against teams that made the postseason last year.

Despite their success against the elite, Brooklyn is just 5-9 against teams that didn’t make the postseason, which has prevented them from overtaking the Philadelphia 76ers as the No. 1 seed in the East. Irving has noticed the disparity in the effort given against less talented teams, and he made it a point to address that deficiency.

“Finish the games,” said Irving. “We’re up by 10, we’re up by eight, we’re up five with a minute to go. Finish the game.”

Irving knows that if the Nets can play just like they did against a team as deep, well-coached, and lethal on the offensive end as the Clippers, they can muster the same effort on a Monday night against the Wizards.

Kyrie Irving is trying to get the Brooklyn Nets motivated.

The Nets have not only taken down teams like the Bucks, 76ers, Nuggets, and Jazz, the latter of whom lost to Brooklyn by 34, but they’ve done so in pretty convincing fashion. However, while the Nets dominate against other playoff teams, they are a combined 1-7 against the Thunder, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, and Wizards, often times losing fourth-quarter leads in the process.

Brooklyn’s Jekyll and Hyde act once again reared its head against the Clippers when they went down by 10 points in the first quarter before storming back to win 124-120. The defensive intensity is the biggest difference between their performances against good teams and the ones against bad teams.

Elite teams playing down to their competition is nothing new. Even Durant’s old running mates in Golden State struggled with this sometimes. However, in an increasingly deep East during a shortened season, every win is going to count.

The Nets have proven that when the chips are down and they have to dial in, they can take on some of the brightest stars in the game and come out of their skirmish unscathed. However, these losses against the bottom-feeders in the East could come back to haunt them when the end of the season rolls around, and Kyrie knows they need to nip this bad habit in the bud.