The Brooklyn Nets came into this season as the overwhelming favorites to win the NBA title. This was mainly because many expected their All-Star trio of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant to be available all season. Something that did not happen last year. But the coronavirus vaccination mandate has sidelined one of their stars in Kyrie. Under New York City’s vaccination mandate, players cannot play basketball indoors without receiving at least the first dose of the jab which Kyrie has yet to do. As a result, the Nets have sidelined Irving until he can be a full-time participant of the team.
The Nets still have a great chance to win this year’s title under the leadership of Durant and Harden. But as good as they are, the Nets look a lot less intimidating without the services of Kyrie. Brooklyn is in a loaded Eastern Conference that features powerhouses such as the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, as well as up and coming teams like the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks.
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John Collins Think Hawks Can Reach Finals With Kyrie Out
Hawks star John Collins respects the fact that the Nets are still a force to be reckoned with. However, he thinks that the Hawks’ chances of getting to the NBA Finals are a lot better with Kyrie being out.
“I feel like we’re real contenders. I definitely feel like we can get to the Finals. The East is loaded. Not to say we don’t want to see Kyrie (Irving) play, but it helps us when we don’t have to see a guy like Kyrie on the court,” Collins said, via Kris Kirschner of “The Athletic.”
“As a team, for us, staying healthy, adding depth, adding experience and chemistry (this offseason), we’re not going to shorten the expectations for ourselves. Our goal is to get to the Finals. Losing is always a failure in our minds. If it’s not a championship, it won’t be good enough.”
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Harden & the Nets Focused on Moving on Without Kyrie
Irving is one of the pivotal members of the Nets roster whose presence will be missed. However, the Nets still have two former NBA Most Valuable Player award winners in Harden and Durant. Harden came to Brooklyn last season in hopes of capturing his first NBA title. And despite all of the drama that has surrounded the Nets and Irving, Harden insists that goal has not changed.
“For us, we just got to focus on the guys in this locker room that are here. That’s putting in the work every single day. That’s all we can control. That’s all we focus on. Every single day is already a struggle. It’s already difficult just cause we’re trying to catch up and put it together. That’s the main thing we can focus on is getting better as a unit for whoever is in the locker room and preparing for the game for us,” Harden said per NetsDaily.
“We still have two pretty good leaders on the team. Obviously, Kai is our leader as well, but we still have obviously myself and Kevin to lead, which we’re pretty good at. And go out there and be great every single night.”
Last season Kyrie became just the ninth player in NBA history to shoot at least 50% from the field, 40% from the three-point line, and 90% from the free-throw line in a season. Moving forward without him will not be easy, but it will be necessary if the Nets still have hopes of capturing this year’s NBA title.