Nets Notes: Loss of KD and Kyrie significant in loss to Sixers
photo credit: sixerswire.com
To say the Nets are the same team without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant is like saying that the Beatles would have been the same band without John Lennon and Paul McCartney - just asinine and simply untrue. The loss of two superstars hurt the Nets in many different ways on Saturday night. Kevin Durant is in a seven-day quarantine and will return next Friday, and Kyrie Irving has a swollen finger, which Nets head coach Steve Nash hopes is just day-to-day. With 2/3 pieces of “The Big Three” out, the Nets were hit with an uphill battle before tip-off in The City of Brotherly Love.
The Philadelphia 76ers were at one point frontrunners to land James Harden, but he made it clear to everyone where he wanted to be, and he’s there now. The 31-year-old dropped 26 points, eight rebounds, and ten assists Saturday night, nearly reaching his 51st career triple-double. Though he didn’t fill the Irving void, Landry Shamet stepped up and ended his slump, scoring 22 points and recording three rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes of play. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot posted 13 points, and overall looked pretty solid. Joe Harris had himself another decent game. “Joey Buckets” had 14 points and a rebound, playing 22 minutes. There were undoubtedly flashes where it seemed as if the game was up for grabs, but make no mistake, and this was their opponent's game right from tip-off. Joel Embiid put up 33 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Ben Simmons had 16 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. When all was said and done, Philadelphia improved to 17-7 after a decisive 124-108 win.
Yes, two key players are missing, but this doesn’t excuse a poor opening effort from Brooklyn. When you are outmatched the way they were tonight, a strong start is necessary to put the opposition on their heels and push the pace of play. They did hold a narrow lead initially, but just a few minutes later, things took a quick turn. Neither team started too well. The Nets eventually picked it up and locked the game down defensively at one point, but if they had done that right from tip-off, the game would have been very different and could have yielded a different result. The Nets have dropped their last two games and fall to 14-11 on the season.
The bottom line is, these issues need to be addressed by general manager Sean Marks. Moves need to be made to put this team over the top. With reports suggesting that injured point guard Spencer Dinwiddie is unlikely to reach an extension agreement with the Nets, Marks should have him in play to exchange in a deal for an elite two-way center. The trade deadline and buyout window are approaching and will be here before we know it. Marks is on the clock. His 14-11 super-team plays a ridiculously successful style of basketball when their defensive game is there. Still, more motivation is needed against teams of lesser ability, and they need to step up when two key players are out of the lineup.
The Nets travel to Detroit to take on the struggling 5-17 Pistons. Tip-off will take place at 7:00 PM Eastern Time. The Nets hope to have Irving back for Tuesday night’s matchup and Durant back for Friday night’s matchup against his previous team, the Golden State Warriors.