Despite losing NBA All-Star James Harden to a hamstring injury in Game 1, the Brooklyn Nets still held a 2-1 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks headed into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. This included a 39-point blowout in Game 2 of the series at Barclays Center.
The Nets’ fortunes changed in the second half of Game 4 after their All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving badly sprained his ankle in what would be his final game of the playoffs. While Kevin Durant put up insane numbers during games 5-7, it was not enough as the Nets fell to the eventual champion Bucks in 7 games.
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Isiah Thomas Says Nets Can’t Win Without Kyrie
This season, the Nets will return to the floor with a full training camp to prepare and all three of their All-Stars being at full strength. While each member of Brooklyn’s ‘big 3’ is important to their success Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas believes that Irving is the most pivotal factor to them winning a championship.
“Put me down on record. The Brooklyn Nets with the team constructed the way it currently is, cannot, and will not, win the championship if he is not there. Period,” Thomas said of Irving to Etan Thomas of Basketball News.
“The LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavs that came back and beat the Golden State Warriors after they had a 73-9 season — and LeBron James was off the charts in every statistical category — but the Cleveland Cavs do not win the championship without Kyrie Irving on that team”
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Kenny Anderson Says Nets Would Be ‘Crazy’ to Trade Kyrie
Kyrie had one of the most turbulent years of his career in 2020 dealing with fines, COVID violations, and capping it off with a season-ending injury. Because of this his name has been passed around in hypothetical trade proposals. But former New Jersey Nets point guard Kenny Anderson thinks that Brooklyn would be ‘crazy’ to include Irving in any deal.
“The Nets would be crazy to even think about trading him. They’re favored to win everything. I don’t even believe that they are seriously thinking about trading him. I think that’s just something the media came up with to have something to talk about before the season starts,” Anderson told Thomas.
“We got the best player in the league, Kevin Durant, with the best point guard in the league. Kyrie Irving. and an unstoppable scorer in James Harden. So no, trading Kyrie from the Nets perspective shouldn’t even come into their minds and definitely shouldn’t come out of their mouths as even a consideration.”
Kendrick Perkins Calls Kevin Durant ‘Best in the World’
While Thomas may think that Irving is the most important factor in the Nets winning the title, NBA champion Kendrick Perkins thinks that Durant has officially dethroned LeBron James as the best basketball player in the world.
“Kevin Durant is the best player in the world and it’s about damn time somebody dethrones King James from being the best player in the world,” Perkins said to Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Bally Sports.
“We’re talking about a guy that’s going on Year 19. I don’t really know if LeBron James even cares about being the best player in the world anymore, going on at the age of 37, right? So, it’s about time that somebody finally stepped up to the plate and dethrone him because he’s been carrying the torch for so long.”
With Irving, Harden, and Durant coming back at full strength the Nets are once again being viewed as the prohibitive favorites to win the 2022 NBA title. Winning cures everything and if Kyrie can deliver Brooklyn a title it would surely quiet his naysayers.