Kevin Durant fiasco prevents the Brooklyn Nets from building chemistry and momentum
After the Brooklyn Nets — or rather, what was left of them — melted down at the end of the third quarter on Saturday night, James Harden looked dejected as he stood next to the bench.
So much for building any kind of dynamics or chemistry.
the Kevin Durant fiasco due to confusing Covid-19 protocols, Friday night was a terrifying sight for the NBA, which has just decided to host an All-Star game on March 7 amid the pandemic.
It was also a clear distraction for the team — as Durant went from incapacitation to incapacitation to incapacitation. The obvious move seemed to be moving the game. Or at least to keep KD out as a precaution even though he tested negative.
Instead, the league botched everything. The Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors, and Kyrie Irving suffered a sprained right index finger that kept him out on Saturday.
Durant, who had Covid-19 last March but missed three games this January due to health and safety protocols, now can’t return until next Friday.
Durant drove several times on Friday with a team member who ultimately tested positive. Both were apparently not wearing masks. As a result, Durant has to go into seven-day quarantine again and miss at least three games.
“It’s overwhelming. It is frustrating. He feels the same way, especially when he already has it. We are tested every day. He was negative so I don’t see what the problem is,” Harden said after the setback against Toronto. “If that were the case, the game should have been postponed. If we talk about contact tracing he was all around us so I don’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to play then could play and then got pulled off again.
With Irving and Durant unavailable, Harden attempted to carry Brooklyn in Philadelphia and had 26 points, along with 10 assists and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. But it wasn’t enough for the Nets in their 124-108 loss to the 76ers – a loss that saw them give up 43 points in the third.
Steve Nash elected to hand over earnings to Harden for the entirety of the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid dominated Brooklyn with 33 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes.
The Harden trade may never overthrow the Nets — and all the compensation payments they made for him could come back to haunt them — but at least he didn’t end up in Philadelphia with Embiid, because that tandem would be been electric .
In any case, Embiid could become a serious problem for the Nets in the postseason. You have no one to hold him back. On the other hand, no other team really does either.
Irving, whose unparalleled acrobatic goalscoring ability has been sorely missed, could return against Detroit on Tuesday.
On the positive side, Landry Shamet has found his shooting shot, going 9-for-22 from 3-point range in the last two games.
Meanwhile, Norvel Pelle got some minutes in his Brooklyn debut on Saturday night but he’s looking very rough despite his shot blocking skills.
Just Tuesday, the Nets defeated the Los Angeles Clippers behind 29 combined points from the fourth quarter from their Big Three.
Despite this, they continue to be plagued by the same issues – central defense, rebounds, turnovers and lack of depth – but overcame them for many nights with their electric offense.
Brooklyn is 4-1 in games where Harden, Durant and Irving all play. But as I said, that won’t happen again until next Friday at the earliest.