Nets’ biggest hurdle is trust

The Nets have talent. But they also have problems.

That’s why they’re at home, long since eliminated from the playoffs, while four other teams are still alive and fighting for an NBA championship.

Neither Reggie Miller nor Stan Van Gundy — who both covered the Western Conference finals for TNT — were ready to give up the Nets’ championship window, or their new Big Three (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons) is flawed. But Miller said the Nets’ injuries this season were self-inflicted, while Van Gundy said their biggest problem wasn’t the lineup.

“I think they have the potential to have a good squad. The real problem is they have problems,” Van Gundy said, amending that to “they have a lot of problems.”

The Nets were swept in the first round by Boston, who host top-seeded Miami in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night. The Nets were severely undersized, lacked defense and were injured (Joe Harris and Simmons didn’t play). All three flaws were ruthlessly exposed by the Celtics.

But according to Van Gundy — who coached the Heat, Pistons, Pelicans and Magic, and led Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2009 — the Nets’ biggest problem may be trust.

Stan Van Gundy, who coached the Pelicans last season, said the main thing holding back the Nets is trust issues.
Stan Van Gundy, who coached the Pelicans last season, said the main thing holding back the Nets is trust issues.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

“Over time – Reggie has been there with the team – are people going to look around and really trust other people? Or are they going to look around and say, ‘You know what, that guy is going to let us down.’ Knowing he is. We can’t count on him,'” Van Gundy said. “So they have to overcome a lot of obstacles in this way, and I think that’s maybe even more important than their talent on the field.”

Van Gundy and Miller are curious about what the Nets will look like next season once Harris recovers from season-ending ankle surgery, finally making his team debut. Both believe the pairing helps with the Nets’ size issues, while Simmons should help strengthen defensive holes.

Having to play big minutes with Irving, Cescurry and Patty Mills (all 6-foot-2 or under) allowed the Nets to play like a game against the extra-long Celtics Like The Hobbit. Of course, the Nets should not have faced No. 2 Boston in the first round at 44-38.

Durant suffered a costly injury. But more damaging was the fact that Irving missed 53 games for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a decision that not only prompted James Harden to ask for a trade (in exchange for Simmons), but also caused the Nets to drop to the lowest level in the league. seventh. Eastern Conference standings.

“You’re doing the right thing to yourself because Kyrie is a part-time half-court player. So we’ll never know [what they could’ve done],” Miller said. “I mean, they’re never in a situation where they have to play the Boston Celtics in the first round.

“If Kyrie played 65 or 70 games, they would never have been in a finalist position. I just don’t think they were there in that position. So after we see their roster and a healthy Ben Simmons and a healthy Before Joe Harris, it was difficult to assess them because we didn’t know.”

After sweeping the playoffs, Irving — who didn’t play until January, making just 29 games and just six at home — talked about starting next season “in October” to develop team chemistry to “build trust” and “build camaraderie” “It’s important to have Harris and Simmons on the floor, but these trust issues are probably the most important.

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