The Brooklyn Nets are the second team in the Eastern Conference with a record of 27-15 and are battling with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat for basketball supremacy.
That goal was tough enough as it was but it just got harder because the team lost Kevin Durant to an MCL injury.
The star player is expected to miss about four-to-six weeks as he recovers, leaving Brooklyn short their best player for that time.
This isn’t a death sentence because luckily the team has more than just Durant on its roster.
It’s times like these when the “super team” concept doesn’t seem so bad.
Additionally, the Nets are about to enter a stretch of away games outside of New York and that’ll help them greatly because it means they will lean on Kyrie Irving more.
Away We Go
It is estimated that Durant should probably be returning to the team around the end of the All-Star break on February 24.
Until that time, 11 of the 14 games Brooklyn has lined up are outside of the Barclays Center.
The Nets come out of the All-Star break on February 24 and that’s a realistic benchmark for a Durant return, but clearly the organization will err on caution when it comes to a timeline with him. With 11 of next 14 on road, a lot of Kyrie Irving and James Harden together.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 16, 2022
Due to the COVID vaccine mandate in New York City, Irving cannot play in any home games.
However, he’s free to participate in away games.
So the upcoming away games are going to be his time to shine – and that’s needed since Durant won’t be able to lift the team.
Some of the away games should be easy: for example, they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 23 and the Sacramento Kings on February 2.
However, some of the away games are going to be competitive: the Nets go against the Golden State Warriors on January 29 and then play the Phoenix Suns on February 1.
They’re battling the Jazz in Utah on February 4 and Heat on the 12th.
These are just a few of the away games that will require Irving lock it in and play like the man we all know he can be.
With Durant out of commission, both Irving and James Harden will need to be much better at offense and play-making.
It will be a time that highlights just how much Durant usually does for his squad.
Irving in particular is going to need to step it up because he is a much more natural playmaker than Harden.
As well, people have been waiting for Irving’s return and there are some saying he owes it to the team to go above and beyond because of the hassles his vaccine status has created.
Is he ready to take on that responsibility?
Defeat The East?
A few fans are wondering if any chance of the Nets being the number one seed remains.
With Durant gone for four-to-six weeks and the team lacking Irving for any home games, should they just hope for the second (or even third) seed?
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) January 17, 2022
It’s too soon to answer that.
For one, Chicago isn’t a perfect team and there is a chance they fall from grace a bit (in fact, they’ve lost their last three in a row).
Additionally, don’t count out Irving: it seems that some are forgetting just how incredible he can be at times.
He has led teams in the past and he might be able to do it again.
If the Nets get vintage Irving in these upcoming away games, there is a good chance they could stay very competitive and even overtake the Bulls.
Imagine Durant returning fully rested and healthy to his team being number one in the East.
That’s a frightening thought to the rest of the NBA.