The Brooklyn Nets are on life support and on the brink of elimination as they failed to conjure the required level of moxie and execution against Boston for a third consecutive game on Saturday night. To preserve the season, all Steve Nash's unit needs to do is become the only team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit. Then figure out how to do it in the next round. And the round after that. And then the round after that. Then they'll be champions. All of those lofty expectations can still be realized.
Vegas will give you 40-1 odds on that prospect if you're looking to live extremely dangerously and recklessly. After looking like themselves in the opener, which ended in last-second defeat, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have been husks in the 96 minutes since. The former is 10-for-28 over that stretch, while the latter has gone 10-for-30 for a grand total of 26 points without a three-pointer. Both superstars appear to have been zapped by the Monstars and competing to most accurately replicate LeBron James' deer-in-the-headlights vibe from the 2011 NBA Finals.
Simply put: things are truly bleak and everyone knows it. There will be plenty of time for the postmortem when the exit is official. In the interim, Irving is wondering who could possibly be responsible for this.
“We’re all trying to jell and usually you’re jelling around the right time,” Irving said during his media availability. “And that team in the other locker room is jelling at the right time, been jelling since Christmas. We’re just in a new experience as a group, and we have to respect that.”
“I don’t have a lot of answers for how you make up time from October until now,” Irving said. “When teams would be jelling and playing good. You know, you could put it on me in terms of playing better, controlling the game better, controlling our possessions … not turning the ball over as much.”
Piling on is a cottage industry when athletes fail and there's very little the mercurial point guard could say that is going to change reality or even perception. At the same time, how does this series of words escape his lips without the hint of irony? The major reason Brooklyn hasn't has time to jell is Kyrie's refusal to get vaccinated. A decision that prevented him from playing any games at all until Jan. 5 and any home games until March 29. He sounds like the hot dog guy from I Think You Should Leave only he's not selling it as hard.
His prolonged absences assured a lack of cohesion in addition to forcing the Nets to play a team of the Celtics' caliber in the opening round. As bad as Durant is playing, he's been the one constant in this failed experiment of a superteam who is fully committed. One can only imagine how internally frustrated he is with his philosopher-poet running mate right now. Irving is pondering the mysteries of the world big and small so one could understand why he's a bit perplexed.
Those of us without the burden of massive, global brains can help him out getting to the bottom of this one by handing him a mirror.