Throughout the season, the Brooklyn Nets were close to or the outright favorites to win the NBA championship.
They had a roster that was filled with incredible offensive talent.
However, after a blockbuster trade early in the season, the Nets added James Harden to the roster.
This evolved the Nets into a big three and caused them to be viewed by many as the favorites to win the NBA Finals.
However, they were recently eliminated from the second round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks in an incredible seven game series.
There were two major reasons why the Nets were doomed from the beginning of the playoffs.
Throughout the entire season, injuries riddled the Nets roster.
Notably, their big three of Durant, Irving, and Harden did not spend much time on the court together.
This coming as a result of the three missing so much time due to injuries, league protocol, and personal reasons.
As Irving and Durant missed a lot of time last season with injuries as well, this leads to a lack of on court chemistry between the Nets.
The same held true for James Harden.
Despite being traded to the team early in the season, he was unable to spend enough time playing to be on the same page with not just role players, but also Kevin Durant.
Injuries greatly held the Nets back in the playoffs on a more obvious level.
On top of making it nearly impossible to gain on court chemistry, injuries to players like Kyrie Irving and James Harden occurred in the playoffs and forced the two players to leave games early or even miss entire games.
Despite suffering a grade two hamstring strain, Harden played a great deal of minutes as the series against the Bucks came to an end.
Respect to James Harden. Played 3 playoff games with a Grade 2 hamstring strain.
Game 5 – 46 minutes
Game 6 – 40 minutes
Game 7 – 53 minutes
— Overtime (@overtime) June 20, 2021
It was clear that Harden was not himself.
In the last three games of the series after his hamstring injury, Harden put up unimpressive averages of 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 8.0 assists.
He did this while shooting 30.6% from the field and an abysmal 19.2% from three.
Without an injury, we would have seen a much more dominant performance from Harden and it easily would have been enough for the Nets to advance past the Bucks.
Lack Of Interior Defense
After the Harden trade, it was clear this would be the Nets’ greatest weakness.
When they lost Jarrett Allen, they became one of the weakest teams in the league when guarding the paint.
The trade left them with a center rotation of DeAndre Jordan and Nicholas Claxton.
Claxton proved himself as an amazing defender this season.
However, he still never received the minutes that many believed that he deserved.
Having more of a presence in the paint would have made a difference for the Nets.
The Bucks are a team that lives and dies in the paint.
Their offense lives and dies with Antetkounmpo being able to get penetration into the paint.
From there, he bullies his way to a layup or free throws, or he kicks it to a wide open teammate from three.
Blake Griffin was the Nets’ best option of stopping Antetokounmpo.
Blake Griffin everytime Giannis coming straight to him pic.twitter.com/sSQFYazNPb
— 🥶🦋 (@n4zreenAA) June 20, 2021
While he put forth a great effort, it was not enough.
Giannis had his way in the paint and worked his way to the free throw line numerous times.
If the Nets cannot shake the injury bug and find a versatile big, they will be doomed next year as well.