Why the Brooklyn Nets need to finish the regular season strong.
Plenty has been made of the Brooklyn Nets and the success that they’ve had this season despite their big three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden only playing in seven games together this season.
But regular-season success is entirely different than postseason success and if the Nets have hopes of winning a championship this season, they’re going to need to get healthy sooner rather than later and, perhaps most importantly, they’ll need to finish with the 1-seed.
Why do the Brooklyn Nets need to secure the 1-seed?
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It’s logical to believe that the Nets could still make a deep playoff run, perhaps all the way to the NBA Finals, no matter what seed they enter the postseason as. However, because of their current injury circumstances, the Nets need to do whatever they can to avoid a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.
Harden is still sidelined with a hamstring injury and after suffering a setback recently, it’s now being reported that he’s not close to a return to the lineup. And Nets head coach Steve Nash has even hinted that he might not be back by the end of the regular season.
If that is truly the case, then I have to believe that means there’s a strong chance that Harden even misses some playoff time. And if he’s not going to be back before the end of the regular season, he’s going to be slowly brought back into the fold at the beginning of the playoffs, at best.
While Brooklyn is talented enough to bring Harden around slowly against some of the lower-seeded teams in the East (no offense), I’m not sure if the Nets would be able to get away with that against a team like the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round (if Harden’s injury extends that long, or any other injury this team is facing for that matter).
The Nets need to avoid that 2-3 matchup in the second round and that’s exactly what the team would accomplish by finishing with the 1-seed. Of course, any other significant injury and this team becomes vulnerable to any playoff team.
Though, assuming that Durant and Kyrie are fine and healthy heading into the postseason, Harden will need two playoff series to get back into the swing of things. Even if he returns at the beginning of the start of the postseason, he’s going to need time to get back in playing shape and back in rhythm.
Heading into the final stretch of the regular season, it’s imperative that the Nets lock up the 1-seed in the East. You can make the argument that their championship chances depend on it, considering their current situation.