The Brooklyn Nets came into their matchup against the Boston Celtics on February 1 with a chance to make a statement. The Celtics came in as winners of seven of their last ten games and perched atop the Eastern Conference standings. Getting a win without Kevin Durant, who is still out recovering from an MCL sprain he suffered on January 8, could have been a huge morale boost.
Unfortunately, the Nets didn’t put up much of a fight, as they fell to the top dogs in the conference 96-139. After the game, Kyrie Irving sent a tweet that was an apparent response to the blowout loss.
“Chop Wood, Carry Water, Chop Wood, Carry Water,” Irving tweeted on February 1.
After the game, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said that the Celtics “caught [the Nets] off guard” which contributed to them getting blown out.
“I think it caught us off guard a little bit. Being on the road, they made shots; at the same time, we had some really good looks open early. And then that becomes a mental challenge,” Vaugh told reporters via YES Network.
“This is part of the NBA sometimes. This was a night where they hit first, they hit hard, and it hurt. And we weren’t able to get off the mat like we needed to.”
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Kyrie Irving Sounds off on Celtics Title Hopes
The Celtics could have gone easy on the Nets, especially with Durant out of the lineup. But it was clear as day that with the Nets being a potential playoff opponent, they wanted to make a statement. But the Celtics’ dominance has been on display all season.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been as good as any duo all year. They have the best record in the NBA at 37-15 and clearly are out for revenge after losing to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last season. If the Nets have title aspirations this season, they’ll likely have to see Boston at some point in the playoffs. After being swept by them in the first round of the playoffs last year, Irving knows Brooklyn will have to be up for the challenge.
“It’s clear as day that they want to win the championship, and they’re not wasting any time in the regular season,” Irving said after the loss via House of Highlights. “Tonight I felt like we were just one of those teams in the way, and you know, we just can’t be one of those teams in the way. We’ve got to be one of those teams that stands up to them.”
Vince Carter: Nets ‘Can Make a Run’
The Nets now have a record of 4-7 since Durant went down on January 8. Although the star forward is hopeful that he can return before the All-Star break, that is not something Brooklyn can hang their hat on, as the Nets are not likely to take a risk that could jeopardize the long-term health of their $194 million man.
Even with Durant’s status in limbo, former Nets star Vince Carter doesn’t believe it is the biggest hurdle between Brooklyn and a championship. That lies with Ben Simmons and which version of him the Nets will get in the playoffs.
“This is a team that I think can make a run,” Carter said on the February 2 edition of ESPN’s “Get Up!”.
“I think they are very talented, and they hit their stride when they were healthy. I still say, KD’s not the question, it’s Ben Simmons who is the x-factor. What Ben Simmons will you get? Will you get the aggressive Ben Simmons, going downhill and putting pressure on the defense, making someone guard him whether he’s attacking the rim and then finding guys. They are very capable. They were hitting their stride before KD went down. The machine was well oiled.”
Can Brooklyn make a legit run at the title? Only time will tell.