The Brooklyn Nets are 53 games into their season and the playoffs loom just over a month away. Their standing in the Eastern Conference — tied for first with the Philadelphia 76ers heading into Monday — and the talent on their roster are reasons to feel good about a potential championship run. But the Nets’ continuity — or lackthereof — is one notable reason for some pause.
Brooklyn’s Big Three of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has played only seven games together since the team traded for Harden in mid-January. Injuries have been the main culprit, but another factor has kept the trio from continuing to establish some much-needed cohesion on the court:
Irving’s personal reasons.
That’s the official designation that will keep him from playing in Brooklyn’s next game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. And it’s not the first time this season that the Nets have cited “personal reasons” for an absence by Irving.
One NBA analyst has had enough of it.
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Stephen A. Smith Goes off on Kyrie
Irving’s next absence will be his 16th this season.
“What the hell is going on?” Smith said. “You only played 20 games last year in Brooklyn. You didn’t play in the bubble. You didn’t want people to play in the bubble because you wanted folks to focus on other issues and it turns out you’ve got your own issues, whatever they may be. And so we wish him and his family — nobody’s wishing anything negative about them. Nobody’s doing that. We all hope that everything and everybody is OK. But I don’t recall Kyrie at any point saying, ‘Here’s your money back. You don’t have to pay me.’ But you’re missing games at your discretion. I mean how many personal days do you need? You don’t play every day. You’ve got 72 games this year instead of 82. You only played 20 of the 72 last year. What the hell is going on where you’re just missing games? Because let me tell you something: continuity and chemistry do matter.”
That point is the biggest as it relates to Brooklyn’s hopes for a championship, according to Smith.
“Yes, you can give them (Brooklyn’s Big Three) the ball and they can do what they want to do as individuals when you’re going up against most teams in the NBA,” Smith said. “What about the elite teams? What about the Lakers, who didn’t have LeBron and AD (Anthony Davis) and watched Ben McLemore come off the bench, straight off the street, and drop 17 on you Saturday night (when the Nets lost 126-101 to the Lakers). Andre Drummond dropping 20 and 11. I mean the Lakers ain’t going away. Denver’s not going away. The Clippers are not going away. Milwaukee and Philadelphia are not going away. At some point, the level of continuity and chemistry has to come into play. And when you’re just missing games and literally saying, ‘Well, you know what, I just need personal days,’ I mean, damn.”
.@stephenasmith has an issue with Kyrie’s absences.
“What the hell is going on?!” pic.twitter.com/yNEom6vJcq
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 12, 2021
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Smith Points Finger at Steve Nash
Smith said the man in charge has to receive some of the blame here.
Brooklyn coach Steve Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, is in his first year as a coach.
“See, this is where the rookie coach that is Steve Nash comes into play,” Smith said. “Because if that were one of the more experienced coaches, you think you’re getting away with that? You think you’re getting away with that? You’re just going to take games off on three separate occasions in the same season?
“There’s three separate occasions in the same season, a little bit more than 50 games in, where this brother has taken time off. Ain’t giving money back, though. But he’s taking time off. When is somebody going to say something about that? That’s all I’m saying.”
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