The Brooklyn Nets and their health woes continue to take center stage. Instead of talking about how great the Nets’ Big Three have matched up against the Bucks, we had to watch James Harden go down in Game 1. Now Kyrie Irving’s hurting too.
Irving’s latest injury to his ankle, which happened midway through the second quarter after a bad landing, now puts his health in doubt for at least a game.
An x-ray was negative on the ankle, but Kyrie was apparently seen walking in a booth with crutches, which means he’ll probably not be playing in Game 5.
This now puts the Nets in a precarious position, because they’ll likely be missing two of their three stars in Game 5 with the series tied 2-2. We already saw that the Nets were capable of great things against the Bucks with two of their stars after James Harden left Game 1 almost immediately with a re-aggravated hamstring problem. Now, we’re going to have to see if they can manage with just Kevin Durant.
Because of Harden’s complicated injury, which cause him to miss a large chunk of the regular season, the Nets will also be wary of him trying to rush himself back and potentially creating a larger long-term problem. It’s tough when a potential NBA Finals berth is on the line, but they do still have a championship contention window next year if they lose this season.
The question now becomes whether or not Kevin Durant can carry the Nets past the Bucks alone. As brilliant as he is, having to shoulder the load alone on offense against the Bucks and their occasionally borderline dirty defense is a tough ask of any superstar. PJ Tucker and the rest of the Bucks are trying their best to frustrate Durant every time he touches the ball, and it’s working in spurts.
It’s becoming a chippy series with a number of dangerous plays from both teams, too. Check out this one against Pat Connaughton that ended up with him bleeding from his eye area.
The Nets have heart and will challenge, for sure, and their role players are willing to give up their bodies to try to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo. The issue is that the Bucks still have the luxury of hoping that Khris Middleton or Jrue Holiday have a good game if Antetokounmpo has a bad one. The Nets, without Irving or Harden, don’t have that opportunity.
Irving left the game after playing 17 minutes with 11 points, and that was in the first half. By the end of the fourth quarter, he was STILL the Nets’ second-leading scorer.
Durant finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a block, and had five turnovers. However, he had to take 25 shots to do so and only made 9 of them, while going 1 of 8 from beyond the arc. A big reason behind his shooting struggles in Game 4 is because the defense could focus solely on him.
You can probably expect him to maintain a similar production while riding as the solo star, but the question is who else will step up their game.
Hate them or love them, you’ve got to acknowledge that Irving’s injury really sucks for the Nets and for the NBA in general. There’s nothing wrong with them losing straight-up, but having to bow out of a series due to injuries is a different ballgame. Just ask the defending champion LA Lakers, who never recovered from Anthony Davis’ groin injury and bowed out of their first round series against the Suns in 6 games.
Let’s hope that Irving and Harden recover in time to at least make a good run at trying to save this series. However, the prognosis for Brooklyn’s chances, at least for now, are rather bleak.