NEW YORK — Following their season-ending sweep, the Boston CelticsThe Brooklyn NetsOn Monday night, they officially acknowledged what was evident throughout their season: The issues they had off the floor had an impact on how they played it.
“It was just really emotionally heavy this season,” Nets guard Kyrie IrvingAfter their loss to 116-112 in Game 4, they said. “We all felt it. It felt like I was letting down the team at a time when I couldn't play. We tried to make it possible for me to participate, but that was not what I wanted. It became distracting at times. We just made some dramatic changes, as you can see.”
Irving's acknowledgement is noteworthy, considering that Irving's decision not to be vaccinated for COVID-19 overshadowed everything the Nets did during the entire season. The New York City vaccination mandate required that all employees be vaccinated before they could return to work. This created uncertainty for the Nets as they began the season. Irving was denied participation as a part time player by the Nets before they reversed their decision in December following a team-wide epidemic. Irving was allowed back on the floor Jan. 5, but could not play in road games. New York City Mayor Eric Adams rescinded the mandate for athletes and performers in late March.
Irving was out of action, but the Nets managed to deal with an ankle injury. Joe HarrisHe was forced to miss 14 of his remaining games. A MCL injury for star forward Kevin DurantHe was forced to miss six weeks. He sent a trade in February at the deadline James HardenTo the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre DrummondAnd two first-round draft picks. Harden later said that Irving's part time status was the reason for this move. Simmons was also brought to the Nets team by this deal. Simmons had requested a trade from Philadelphia last summer after a herniated disk caused him to miss two months.
Steve Nash, the coach, said that distractions off the court are a major reason that we were in that situation. To keep us in the playoffs, Kevin had to bear such a heavy load. All of these things have an impact on what happens at the floor. They are tied and it is clear that they have an impact. The season was filled with too many, so many things that kept us in the back for moments and pockets.
Durant went on an 11-game losing streak for the Nets, as well as a February stretch in which they lost 17 out of 20 games. Their season was about to change when they thought it was over. The Nets were picked by many to win the NBA championship. Their record was 44-38, which is seventh place in Eastern Conference. It was also good for a playoff berth, solidified by a win over the 76ers. Cleveland CavaliersApril 12, 2012. It was April 12.
Durant stated, “No regrets,” after being swept in the first time of his career. “S— happens. No need to be upset about milk that has been spilled. It's all about how we can move forward and improve from here. We can see that we have been through much this year. Everyone in the company knows what we've been through. It's not a time to be regretful or angry. It's about how we can improve, be proactive, and as an organisation, get better.
“Even great teams don't dwell too much on their accomplishments, they just strive to improve. We know our mistakes, but we can turn them into strengths. However, we cannot regret the things we did. S— was just how it was.”
The Nets were disappointed with the season and the way the series against the Celtics went out. However, it was almost like a relief to see things end on Monday night. The Nets were unable to handle all the pressure on the floor. This was a team that has never reached the heights many believed possible.
“We lost a franchise player [in Harden]And we got a player from the franchise back [in Simmons]Irving replied, “Yes,” Irving said, “But we didn’t get a chance see him on the ground. There was no pressure. [Simmons]We'd love for you to join us on the ground. Ben's good. We have Ben. He's going be great for next year. Now we can just look ahead to the franchise we are building and get more difficult. …
“That's why, I said, it's an added motivation when you get caught like this. While I may not have played as well as I would prefer, now we look to the future and see what we can accomplish in the next few decades. This is something that I'm excited about.
Simmons is the main focus of that future, although he was not present at Barclays Center Monday night due to back problems. Irving replied, “I don’t really plan to go anywhere,” when Irving was asked about a potential long-term extension. Irving has a player option for this summer that is worth more than $36.5 million.
Irving stated, “There is no doubt about where I am going and how it will end.” “I'm here to help,” Irving said. [Durant]But I also want to build a great group. I've done this many things and averaged this many points. While I've been recognized individually for my greatness, I want to be part a great group. Focus on the team and not on individual achievements. Only really create something extraordinary — my summer goal is to just build with my team.”
Durant also stated that he would like to have Nash back as coach of Nets next season.
Durant stated that Steve has been dealt a terrible hand over the past two years. He had to deal a lot as a head coach, first coach, trades and injuries, COVID, etc. I was proud of his focus and his passion for our team. We'll all keep working hard over the summer to see what happens.
Both Irving and Durant expressed optimism about the future for the Nets as they embark on an exciting summer.
Irving stated, “When I say that I'm here to Kev, it really entails that we manage this franchise together.” “Alongside [owner] Joe [Tsai]And [general manager] Sean [Marks]Only our family members, our locker room, and our organization. It's not about Kev and me. I don't want it to be about just that. We're cornerstones, but there are a few more guys on contract. We need to talk about it this offseason and make sure we have fun and enjoy what we are building.
“And hopefully we can all start from day one, just as a team and as a whole family. And we don't worry too much about ourselves. Sometimes it feels like outside noises, or noises from the external world, can get in. This is something I don't like so we can build our squad together. I think we need to be more tough mentally and more open about what we want. Keep your eyes on the goal and the mission.