Things just seem to keep getting better for the Brooklyn Nets. After a tumultuous start to the season, they now find themselves only two games behind the Boston Celtics in a tight race for home court advantage.
The Nets are currently riding a nine-game winning streak after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in an important 125-117 away victory, and they were lead by Kevin Durant’s 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists along with Kyrie Irving’s 32 points, four rebounds and five assists. The two superstars are playing out of their minds right now.
People have wondered all season what things would be like for the Nets if Durant and Irving were regularly available to play with each other, and the duo are putting all doubts to rest. Durant, who has played in eight of the nine victories, has averaged 30.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Irving is not far behind, as he’s played in seven of the nine games and is averaging a similar 30 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
Irving is currently showing why the Nets have put up with all of his off-court behavior. As much as some of us dislike all of the shenanigans from “Hela”, he continues to prove that he’s a generational basketball talent. Even some fans in Cleveland seem to have let go of the bad blood from his departure, judging by how many people wanted to take photos with him and get his autograph today.
Their offensive firepower alone has been enough to carry a Nets squad that only has three players averaging in double figures during the streak, as teams don’t seem to have an answer for their ability to score from any distance. While doubts were what followed the Nets during Steve Nash’s entire tenure, the team seems to have rallied around their two superstars and coach Jacque Vaughn, who took over the reins after Nash and the team parted ways. The Nets are 18-5 since Vaughn took over a coach, and they’ve clearly rallied around his leadership.
Everyone seems to have gotten comfortable in their roles. From Ben Simmons being allowed to focus on contributing from outside the scoring end, to Yuta Watanabe and Royce O’Neale getting the chance to show off their three-point shooting skills, things are just clicking.
Simmons in particular has gotten his playmaking chops back, and while his current production still doesn’t live up to a max contract, that’s not going to matter to his teammates if he helps the Nets make a deep playoff run.
The Nets are also managing to do this while being the second-worst rebounding team in the league. Their 40.3 rebounds per game is ahead of only the Dallas Mavericks, and their leading rebounders are Nic Claxton (8.4 rebounds), Simmons (6.8 rebounds) and Durant (6.6 rebounds). However, they’re also the best shooting team in the league, making 51% of their field goals and 39.1% of their threes. When you’re making shots like that, who the hell needs a rebound?
The Nets will have a chance to make it ten in a row when they take on the Atlanta Hawks, who will be playing the second night of a back-to-back that day. They already beat Atlanta once this month, and they’re playing even better now.