ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is not known for being short with his words. He will say what is on his mind when it’s on his mind about anybody and he has treated the Brooklyn Nets no differently. On a recent episode of First Take Stephen said that he felt that the Nets were in trouble. “I see Kyrie shooting more shots than KD. I see Kyrie shooting definitely more in the fourth quarter than KD. And I see a team that’s struggling defensively,” he said. Now that the Nets have acquired James Harden via a four-team blockbuster trade, ESPN’s top basketball analyst is completely changing his tone on the Nets and their chances.
Stephen A. Has Nets in NBA Finals
“Well, I learned that the Brooklyn Nets are going into the NBA Finals with or without Kyrie Irving,” Smith Answered in response to what he learned from James Harden’s Nets debut. Kyrie Irving may be the determining factor in winning the chip, but they won’t need him to get to the finals.” Kyrie has not played a game with the Nets since January 5 in an impressive 34-point victory over the Utah Jazz. Although Kyrie has been away from the court he hasn’t been completely off the grid. He attended a recent party for his sister Asia’s 30th birthday which landed him in some hot water with the league’s office because it violated the NBA’s health and safety protocols. As a result, he was fined $50k. “I don’t care whether he’s a distraction or not. James Harden and Kevin Durant are going to the NBA Finals. I don’t see anybody stopping them it’s just that simple,” he said.
KD Has Looked Like an MVP Candidate
In Kyrie’s absence, Kevin Durant has really carried the load for the Nets. When KD returned from his own seven-day quarantine due to contact tracing they were outside of the playoff picture sitting at 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Today they are in fifth place and KD has been making a very strong case for being this year’s most valuable player. “There’s nothing you can do to him in his sleep. He will average 25. Well, guess what, I was wrong. He’s averaging 30 on 54% shooting and 48% from three-point range in his first 10 games back from an Achilles tear after an 18-month layoff.” Stephen A. said of KD.
KD and Kyrie already proved what they are capable of as a duo when focused. They started off the season with two consecutive blowouts over top contenders, Golden State Warriors, and Boston Celtics. Adding the Beard to that mix with his ability to score and get others involved makes the Brooklyn Nets downright scary. “Harden will pass, Harden will accumulate assists, and we know what he can do point-wise particularly one-on-one,” Stephen A. said.
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While Stephen A. may be stamping Brooklyn’s ticket to the NBA Finals, Brooklyn’s newest star knows it won’t be that easy “It’s not a guarantee that me coming to Brooklyn is guaranteeing a title,” James told reporters over Zoom on Friday. “In this stage of my career, it’s giving myself a chance to do something that I haven’t accomplished yet in the league.”