Nets Hit With Truth Bomb About Kyrie Irving’s Playoff Struggles vs. Celtics

Kyrie Irving

Getty Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets goes to the basket as Terry Taylor #32 of the Indiana Pacers defends during the first half at Barclays Center

When Kyrie Irving refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 last fall, it was the defining moment of the Brooklyn Nets season. That decision led to the Nets star only playing 29 games, and took Brooklyn from being a championship contender to a play-in team. After advancing out of the play-in tournament, the Nets faced an even bigger challenge in their first-round opponent, the Boston Celtics.

Aside from a 39-point outburst in Brooklyn’s Game 1 loss, Kyrie had a relatively pedestrian showing in the first round. Per Stat Muse, he averaged 21.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists compared to the regular season, where he averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.

NBA veteran Tim Thomas told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports Network that the Ramadan holiday that took place during the first round, which required the Nets star to “fast” until sundown, took its toll on Irving.

“Kyrie’s a smart individual. I told him obviously that as an OG, I’m in his corner with what he’s doing and what he’s going to do in the future obviously. But his season — and every player that plays professional sports understands this; you have to have a certain amount of time to get your body in tip-top shape,” Thomas said.

“But Kyrie did a great job of maintaining his skill set; obviously he was in decent shape but it just wasn’t enough and obviously fasting during Ramadan, that took a lot out of him as well.

But that whole Nets situation, I think that they need to just stick together for a year and just try to figure it out rather than abandon ship so early. I think with him and KD that’s enough firepower to at least get them to the NBA Finals or at least, to the Eastern Conference Finals.”

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Kyrie Irving Speaks Out on the Challenge of Ramadan

It is understandable why Irving may have suffered a drop-off in his play during Ramadan. Participants are not allowed to consume food while the sun is out, which is the source of energy many players rely upon.

But a larger issue is that nothing is likely to change as it pertains to the impact the Ramadan holiday has on Irving during the playoffs. That is just the way that the calendar is set up. Last season Irving spoke on the challenges of Ramadan.

“It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination,” Irving said via masslive.com. “So, you can’t really take any moment for granted during the day. I don’t really have time or the attention to give energy to any distractions. So, I come in here and I just pay attention to the details. Remind myself that I’m breathing, and that’s enough.”


Ben Simmons Could Be Brooklyn’s X-Factor

The Nets had their share of struggles last season which culminated in a first-round sweep. But one must wonder if the outcome would have been different if Nets three-time All-Star Ben Simmons suited up during the playoffs.

For those who may be tardy to the party, Simmons was traded to the Nets last February in the blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to Philadelphia. However a back injury held him out all of last season. As one of the league’s most elite defenders, Thomas believes Simmons will make the Nets much more dangerous.

“Ben is a great defensive player, right? He’s 6’9” – 6’10” so he can help rebound and push and handle the basketball obviously, being a point guard at his size; but I think overall they [the Nets] have some nice pieces overall to be able to get things done,” Thomas added.

“And with Ben, I think he just needs to focus on his game in the summertime and just start working on it because the older you get, you’re gonna lose some of those capabilities that were in your game as a youngster — and you’re gonna NEED that jump shot and things of that nature so, it’ll come around. But I think with a healthy Ben and two scorers on each side, anything’s possible with that team.”

It will be interesting to see just how far this Nets team can go this season.

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