The Brooklyn Nets (29-22) extended their current losing streak to six games after a tough loss against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The downtrodden Kings (19-34) were in the middle of their own seven-game skid when they hosted the Nets in a battle of two teams desperate for a win. Yet, the Kings rallied back from a 12-point deficit and prevailed to get off the schneid. The Kings secured only their third victory in their previous 13 games.
James Harden played through a nagging hand injury but scored a season-low four points.
“There’s no concern,” said Harden after the loss to the Kings. “We don’t have our entire team and this is happening to us. We’re just trying to figure out what works best, what guys fit, what guys don’t. Hopefully after the break we can get our whole roster and start making strides in the right direction.”
Despite the current losing streak, the Nets are not freaking out. But, should they?
Nets: 2-7 Since KD’s Injury
The Nets were 27-15 and 12 games above .500 when they lost Kevin Durant to a sprained knee. Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer averaging 29.3 ppg, is not someone that you can automatically fill in for with the “next man up” philosophy.
The Nets are 2-7 since Durant’s injury and find themselves only seven games above .500. The Nets decided to shut down Durant at least through the All-Star Break. Even though Durant earned the most votes in the Eastern Conference to earn the honor as one of the captains in the All-Star Game, he will sit it out to rest up.
The Nets would like to give him as much time as he needs to heal his knee, but the team clearly needs him. The Nets lost precious ground in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff seeding over the last two weeks with Durant on ice. If the season were to end today, the Nets would earn the #6 seed.
Despite the losing streak, the Nets are still the consensus favorite to win the 2022 NBA championship at +270 odds.
Betting wise, the Nets are the worst team in the NBA with a 19-31-1 ATS record. The Nets covered just 38% of their games this season.
Lean On Irving and Mills
Kyrie Irving returned to the Nets at a crucial time. Even though the unvaccinated Irving cannot play home games at Barclay’s Center due to NYC’s health mandate, the Nets desperately needed him for road games after Durant went down with is knee injury.
Since Durant was sidelined, Irving led the Nets in scoring five times in nine games. In ten road games this season, Irving averages 23.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game.
In January, Irving shot 49.4% from the floor, 36.7% from 3-point range, and a clutch 96% from the free-throw line. Irving ended January on a mini-hot streak averaging 30 points or more in three out of four games. In a four-point loss against the Golden State Warriors over the weekend, Irving dropped 32 points in a losing effort.
“When you’re going through a losing streak, not many people want to hear the same thing over and over again,” said Irving. “The get-better jargon that we consistently use, it can get mundane. Game to game we’re feeling like we’re coming out with some morale victories if we lose, but I’m tired of that.”
Head coach Steve Nash needs to rely on his veterans off the bench to provide some stability while Durant is out and during home games when Irving cannot play.
Patty Mills has been an unsung hero for the Nets this season. The veteran point guard averages 13.8 ppg this season, but he’s been logging a lot of court time especially when Harden missed time with a freak hand injury. Backup forward Nic Claxton recently stepped up with a career-high 23 points and 11 rebounds in a loss against the Kings.
On Deck: Jazz, Nuggets, Celtics, Wizards, Heat
The Nets are in the middle of an arduous five-game road trip against Western Conference teams. They have two more road games remaining against the Utah Jazz (31-21) on Friday and the Denver Nuggets (28-23) on Sunday before returning to Brooklyn.
Next week, the Nets play a single home game against the Boston Celtics (28-25) on Tuesday before they hit the road for two more away games. Next weekend, the Nets host the slumping Washington Wizards (24-27) and streaky Miami Heat (32-20).
In the week before the All-Star Break, the Nets have three games in New York City including two games at home and one road game against the disappointing Knicks (24-28) at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.