The Brooklyn Nets fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-102 on Sunday night.
It marked the team’s second straight loss, and it led to unfortunate memories of what happened last year when they lost 11 consecutive outings after Kevin Durant got hurt.
Durant hurt his right MCL his squad’s game against the Miami Heat last week while some wild stuff was occurring in the stands. He is currently nursing it back to health and is set to be re-evaluated in two weeks.
On Sunday, following his team’s most recent loss, the Nets’ other star Kyrie Irving was asked if he foresaw any issues similar to what occurred last season without Durant.
Kyrie Irving on why Kevin Durant’s absence could have a different impact this season compared to last year: “Well, I’m consistently in the lineup. That helps. We also don’t have halfway in anybody in the locker room.”
SHOTS FIRED? pic.twitter.com/p2xMKKZrSM
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) January 16, 2023
“Well, I’m consistently in the lineup, that helps,” Irving said.
“We also don’t have anyone who is halfway in in the locker room.”
The only person who was “halfway” in the locker room last year was James Harden. He famously demanded a trade and was eventually dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons.
It was something of a known fact that Irving and Harden didn’t get along last year. After the trade both tried to make it seem like their relationship was in a fine place, but it definitely wasn’t. And this confirms it.
Besides the sneaky little Harden comment, Irving also elaborated on why he thinks the Nets will be fine without Durant in the short-term this time around.
“This isn’t last year, at all. The comparisons gotta stop. I’ll leave it up to you guys to do that, but for us, we don’t have any comparisons to last year.”
Kyrie Irving talks about the Nets navigating this recent stretch without Kevin Durant: pic.twitter.com/7ozg6WnS2N
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) January 16, 2023
“Just gotta shake this one now and get ready for our road trip coming and take it one possession at a time,” he continued.
“One minute at a time. And just Invite the growth that can happen here. Guys can definitely fill in some shoes, play some different roles, and it gives us a chance to really grow as individuals.
“Some guys have been in this position, some guys have not. It was all glory, glory last week when we were winning game after game and now we’re answering questions about potentially struggling.”
In the end, Irving just wants to end the negativity and move forward with a more positive mindset.
“I don’t think we are going to struggle without Kevin now,” he said.
“That’s not my belief. I know guys in the locker room don’t believe that, and this isn’t last year at all. So the comparisons just gotta stop. I’ll leave it up to you guys to do that, but for us, we don’t have any comparisons to last year.”
The Nets have objectively been one of the league’s best teams over the past month. After a slow start, they roared back and turned themselves into arguably the top squad in the East.
This Durant injury has the potential to derail that
Joe Burrow’s girlfriend seemed to really enjoy herself at the Bengals game. https://t.co/QbcxA8fvJ6
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 16, 2023
Also worth watching is the fact that the front office had a very clear NBA Trade Deadline plan before Durant got hurt.
Will it change now?
A lot of that will probably depend on how Brooklyn fares over the next month without its best player.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.