In just under two weeks the Brooklyn Nets will head to San Diego for the opening of NBA training camp. The Nets will be one of several teams this season, who will be returning to the floor with a sour taste in their mouth. Brooklyn was viewed as the prohibitive favorite to win last year’s NBA title, but their run ended abruptly in the second round.
After injuries to Nets’ stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden in their second-round matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, the series looked a lot different than many had originally expected it to. Despite a herculean effort from Kevin Durant, the Nets lost the series in 7 games. Brooklyn is returning with a fully healthy roster this season and many are expecting a different result from the Nets in 2021.
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Shaq Picks Bucks as Biggest Threat to Nets
Even though the Nets are expected to be at full strength in this year’s NBA playoffs, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is still giving the Bucks the champion’s advantage over Brooklyn.
“Of course. The champions. Come on, Milwaukee. I’m going to tell you something. Don’t disrespect the champ…. He [Giannis Antetokounmpo] did it the right way, he did it the respectful way,” Shaq said of who the biggest threat to the Nets are during a September 16 appearance on First Take.
“I’m going to give that man all the respect until they beat him. The new superman is going to be a problem in the East.”
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Shaq Doesn’t Think Old Age Will Be Factor for Nets or Lakers
The Nets and Lakers are set to meet up for a collision course in the 2022 NBA Finals. While neither team has youth on their side, they are both loaded with talent. Although the Nets and Lakers both have a surplus of veterans on their roster, Shaq doesn’t believe that will prevent either of these teams from winning this year’s title.
“A lot of people always talk about age but show me a young team that dominates. Listen, young teams always make noise, but when they get to the playoffs what do you always say? ‘Oh, they don’t have enough experience,’” Shaq continued.
“The great Carmelo Anthony was right. It’s championship or bust for the Lakers. The Brooklyn Nets and the Lakers have the most experience when it comes to age. I’m not worried about all that young talk.”
Both Nets & Lakers Made Key Additions This Offseason
While the Nets are bringing back their main horses in Durant, Irving, and Harden they did make some key additions this offseason including Patty Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Paul Millsap.
For the Lakers after a disappointing exit in the first round, general manager Rob Pelinka, and their front office gutted their roster and started fresh. Los Angeles made several additions this offseason. However, the biggest move they made was trading Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Wizards in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Adding Westbrook with LeBron James and Anthony Davis gives the Lakers a ‘Big 3’ of their own.
While both of these teams feature a healthy number of elder statesmen, they both are leagues ahead of the rest of the NBA in terms of talent. If all goes to plan and they do meet in the NBA Finals, it could be one of the most explosive matchups ever.