Brooklyn Nets: 3 reasons they’re still undeniable NBA Finals favorites

Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Why the Brooklyn Nets should be NBA Finals favorites: More rest for stars than other teams

The NBA faced insurmountable odds to pull off the 2019-20 season, and the ramifications of having to put games on pause for several months in 2020 due to the global pandemic spilled over into the 2020-21 season as well. Primarily, logistics and scheduling were and are a sore point for the league this season.

The league initially released the first half of the schedule and then later came around to release the second half once it got a feel for what games from the first half would need to be rearranged due to postponements because of health and safety protocols (positive COVID-19 tests, primarily).

As a result, the second half of the schedule is condensed. By a lot. For instance, the Nets final 30 games were scheduled in a span of 56 days, meaning an average of 0.87 rest days in between games.

All this to say the wear and tear on athletes’ bodies is becoming a major issue. LeBron James, notably one of the most durable athletes of the modern era, has missed 15 games and counting due to injury. His counterpart Anthony Davis has missed time as well. Jamal Murray went down with an unfortunate ACL tear and will miss the remainder of the season.

General managers are reportedly anxious about the short and long-term impacts of the sprint to close the regular season and the potential injuries to come, according to a recent ESPN report.

While plenty of teams have to fear that their athletes are red-lining it to close the season and chase favorable seeding for the postseason, that’s just not really as much of a concern for Brooklyn.

Of course, Nets fans always have a hint of anxiety regarding the health of their star players, but beyond normal wear and tear, the three stars of the team — Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant — probably won’t be overly exerted heading into the postseason.

Note: Kevin Durant recently left a game with injury, but so far reports indicate it’s not a major injury, though he will miss time.

To this point, Harden has played just 34 games, Irving 41, and Durant 24. Durant has yet to even pass the 1,000-minute mark. Even Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have played 46 and 44 games, respectively.

It’s not great that a lot of those absences for Brooklyn have been ailments to their star players, but nothing catastrophic at this point in the season is good.

Furthermore, let’s zoom out just a bit. The league-wide concern over star players suffering major injuries because of the stressful end-of-season is not solely because of this season. Many GMs are concerned about the cumulative impacts of over-exertion from a delayed and quick-moving end to the 2019-20 season, not just this year.

Irving and Durant both passed on participating in the NBA’s bubble (Durant was out for the season, anyway), meaning they are theoretically more rested than the average star players.

As a for instance, consider the aforementioned Murray, who willed the Nuggets to two consecutive Game 7 series last year just months before the start to the 2020-21 season.

Key Nets players have a lot of rest banked up. That could end up being a serious advantage in this year’s postseason.