Brooklyn Nets were considered the standout favorites to win the NBA championship and dominate the Eastern Conference this season. But so far, they haven't looked like doing either of those things. The Nets lost their third game of the season, this time to the Miami Heat, who held them to under 100 points as a team.
Kevin Durant put up good numbers once again, as he always does, with 25 points. But the problem remains with the Nets' other superstar, James Harden. Harden has been struggling this season, mostly because of the NBA's recent change in foul rules that doesn't allow him to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. Harden has mentioned that he feels like the game is predetermined because of this change in rules.
Harden scored 14 points against the Heat on yet another poor shooting night. So far, Harden is yet to pass the 20-point mark and is averaging a poor percentage from the field, making only 36.4% of his attempted shots.
And his trips to the free-throw line have also reduced significantly, with him only going to the line 3 times a game, the lowest in his career. This poor form from the Nets begs the question; Can Brooklyn win the NBA championship without Kyrie Irving.
Irving infamously chose not to get vaccinated, and the Nets dropped him from the squad until he changes his mind and gets the shot. Kyrie was a big plus for the Nets offensively last year, with him averaging 26 points and 6 assists. And his absence during the Nets' series against the Bucks is a big part of why they lost the series.
Kevin Durant spoke about Kyrie's absence, and how the team is moving forward without him. He mentioned that it is clear that the Nets miss Kyrie and want him back. But for the time being, they need to move forward and improve without him, something he is confident the Nets will be able to do.
“I know what you want me to say. Yeah, we do miss Kyrie. We do. He’s part of our team. But like I said, we’ve been generating great shots. We’ve been getting in the paint. We just gotta knock them down.”
James Harden has also come out and said that his poor form so far is in part because of his recovery went during the offseason. As he gets more reps in, he will put up numbers we're used to seeing from him.
Steve Nash has defended Harden over his poor form, saying that they have full faith in him getting back to where he used to be. The Nets will be hoping that it happens sooner rather than later, as they are really struggling at the start of the season.