Why the Brooklyn Nets remain a contender despite the up and down season

Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Brooklyn Nets are showing signs of life as the return of Kevin Durant appears on the horizon. 

The Brooklyn Nets continue to fight through the adversity of this season however they can. Players have missed games this season for a variety of reasons and the team continues to scrap for every win.

Everyone has the same goal –  to be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season, no matter what it takes.

Over the weekend, the Nets were playing a team they know very well in the Milwaukee Bucks. Most NBA fans remember the battle that the two teams had last year, taking the Eastern Conference semi-finals to a dramatic seven-game series. It was going to take a hard-fought win for the Nets to walk out on top, as the Bucks were playing with their Big 3 (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday) and the Nets were still without both Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons.

This was Kyrie Irving’s first game back in Milwaukee since spraining his ankle in Game 4 of last year’s East semi-finals. Nets fans know this has been a tough season for Irving because all he wants to do is help the team win. He gets heavily criticized for his comments and actions sometimes, but Irving is a born winner and lets his play define him.

Despite three Bucks players scoring 25 points or better (Portis-30, Antetokounmpo-29, Middleton-25), the Nets were able to pull off the 126-123 victory in a game that came down to the wire. The top point scorer for either team was indeed Kyrie Irving who dropped 38 points in 39 minutes played.

Irving spoke about being back in Fiserv Forum for the first time since last year.

"[via ESPN]“I haven’t been back in the building since then. I try my best no to wear my emotions on my face or on my shoulders, but sometimes they can get the best of me. It definitely felt like there was a weight getting lifted just being back here, being healthy, getting the win, knowing that there’s a possibility we could see them down the line again.”"

Brooklyn is in a unique situation this season. It seems that in every game there is a new person who steps up to the challenge that night. Players who have been with the team all season like Patty Mills, LaMarcus Alridge, and Cam Thomas all have stepped up to help the Nets win. Newer faces like Seth Curry and Andre Drummond are making big impacts as well.

Good news seems to be coming the Nets way as well. Rumors have been spreading over social media that Kevin Durant is most likely making his return later this week, barring any major setbacks. KD has not played in a game since January 15. I’d say there is a strong chance that Nets fans see him back sooner than later.

New York City is also set to lift the vaccine mandate on March 7. Though, at least for now, it appears that Kyrie still won’t be allowed to play in home games. The hope is that will change by the postseason.

Kyrie has played in 15 games for the Nets this season. He is averaging 25.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists.

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The Nets are currently 32-29, which is still eighth in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn is one game behind the Toronto Raptors who the Nets will play in back-to-back games this week. Two very big games for Brooklyn if they want to find a way to stay out of the play-in tournament.