The Brooklyn Nets were expected to ride Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving to a championship this year, but some unfortunate luck against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks ruined those chances.
Harden was healthy in this series for all of one minute before his hamstring issues popped up once again, and Irving missed the last 3 games of this series thanks to a freak ankle injury. Brooklyn was completely barren in terms of backcourt depth, leaving it to Durant to take over once again.
KD offered up two more masterpieces, including one of the best postseason games in NBA history in Game 5 and a tremendous performance in Game 7, but his foot ended up on the 3-point line on his clutch shot near the end of regulation, giving Milwaukee a chance to take it home in overtime.
A gassed Nets team scored just two points in overtime, and the Bucks took the series. Considering all of the adversity that this team had to absorb over the last few weeks, they shouldn’t undertake a huge overhaul of their roster this offseason in order to get over the hump.
The Brooklyn Nets must stay the course in 2021.
Let’s just make a list of all the things that went wrong before Game 5 even started. First, a team that was already lacking in depth due to the injuries to Spencer Dinwiddie saw Harden playing at maybe 50% due to a Grade 2 hamstring injury that normally takes several weeks to fully recover from.
Irving also suffered a complete freak injury that hampered his ankle. In a game that was decided by just a few points, it doesn’t take a genius to see where Irving would have added value against Milwaukee’s tough backcourt.
Harris was literally the best 3-point shooter in the league in the regular season, but he just fell apart in this series in a way that was completely unpredictable, especially considering how lethal he was in the Boston series prior to this. He’s in town for 3 more years, and trading him away after his disappointment against the Bucks would be very reactionary.
The Nets almost pulled out a series win in a game where Durant, Harden, and Bruce Brown all played 52 minutes or more and none of the 3 bench players that entered the game even attempted a shot. If anything, they should get more credit for hanging with Milwaukee when they were at 70% health-wise.
This shouldn’t necessarily prevent Sean Marks from trying to make some moves here and there, as they do need to find some way to upgrade the center position. Blake Griffin is a free agent, and he didn’t provide the best brand of rebounding and interior defense when he was in Brooklyn. DeAndre Jordan and his eight-figure contract earned zero playoff minutes.
The Nets will potentially have Dinwiddie and Griffin coming off of the books, giving them the financial means with which to attack that position. The Nets also have four draft picks this year, including their own first-rounder at No. 27. Marks has shown an aptitude for building via the draft, and he can continue to beef up this roster via this method.
Of course, looking to add veterans that want to chase a ring with Brooklyn could also help this roster out. Just don’t make too many seismic changes.
There’s no shame in losing to a quality Bucks team with a physically drained Durant, Harden playing with a hamstring that was turned into barbecue chicken over the course of this series, and no Irving. with all 3 of these stars locked inf or two more years, the Nets need to trust this roster and hope the injury gods are more merciful.