Spencer Dinwiddie dropped an F-bomb on Twitter when James Harden again aggravated his right hamstring 43 seconds in Game 1. And LeBron James he did the same when Kyrie Irving landed awkwardly and grabbed his right ankle just after the midpoint of the second quarter of Game 4.
What else was there to say?
Suddenly, Kevin Durant is the only healthy member of the Brooklyn Big Three. Suddenly, the Nets’ title hopes are at stake. And barring some unexpectedly good news on the injury front, his once promising season could be over soon.
This year, it really could be the team’s last victory standing. And Brooklyn is currently reeling like he’s been hit by Nate Diaz. It’s true that, unlike Diaz, no one is going to praise the suddenly underprivileged Nets, the NBA’s most hated team, if they lose.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo in early foul trouble, Brooklyn jumped to a double-digit lead Sunday. But Antetokounmpo came back and that lead didn’t last. Irving’s injury changed everything, and the Nets fell 107-96 to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Fiserv Forum.
Irving, who has had an excellent statistical season, was officially diagnosed with a sprain. The X-rays were negative, but on Monday they will do more tests. A source confirmed an ESPN report that he left the building with a boot and crutches. That sounds sinister. Meanwhile, Harden’s status remains uncertain, with Steve Nash saying there are no plans to rush “The Beard” back into action. Therefore, Durant may be alone in the future. And it will have to be from another world for your team to have any chance to advance.
Irving limped into the locker room after flipping and landing at Antetokounmpo with 5:52 left in the second. Brooklyn, unsurprisingly, wasn’t the same team without number 11.
Durant, who often faces doubles and triples, finished with 28 points on 9-of-25 shots in 42 minutes. He added 13 rebounds, five assists and five turnovers. He missed all four of his shots in the fourth quarter and finished 1 of 8 from 3-point range overall.
PJ Tucker continued to be a thorn in Durant’s side, forcing teammate Texas Longhorn to shoot 4-of-12 as the main defender, according to ESPN. Nash referred to Tucker’s defense as “a non-basketball-related physical.” It certainly frustrated Durant, who frequently complained to officers. Many former players supported KD’s pleas on social media.
(One aside: he’d been drumming that Sean Marks should acquire Tucker on the Harden mega deal. Maybe he would have if Spencer Dinwiddie had been a healthy commercial chip.)
No. 7 also received no help from its supporting cast. Irving was the only other player in double figures (11 points), and he played just 17 minutes. After hitting 1 of 11 shots from the field in Game 3, Joe Harris finished with just eight points in Game 4. Unseasoned postseason hero Mike James was also not effective, forcing Bruce Brown to act as point guard. during the final period. Nash eventually gave up the white flag with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
In hindsight, the Nets could have had Game 3. But those last few possessions without Durant were brutal. And it looked like they were going to take Game 4, 11 up with 10:22 left in the second. But then came a 16-point swing. Then came Irving’s injury. Then came disaster.
Brooklyn was 10 of 33 from 3-point range and had 17 turnovers. Milwaukee was 16 of 47 from 3-point range and had 12 turnovers. Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds.
Throughout the season, the Marks-Nash Nets have been hampered by injuries. All season long, they’ve almost welcomed adversity, only to rise to the occasion time and time again. But this? This could be too much to overcome, even for Brooklyn. If both James Harden and Kyrie Irving can’t return, it seems this series is over.
In 2018-19, it was Durant’s Golden State Warriors who missed a tripling opportunity because he got injured. And now, two years later, it’s Durant, after returning to MVP form from Achilles’ injury, who will likely have to lead his team alone.
But even if KD transforms into the 2015 NBA Finals, LeBron James, whose own Los Angeles Lakers have already been knocked out due to injuries to King James and Anthony Davis stars, may not be enough. Because someone else still needs to step up and be Matthew Dellavedova. And there is no guarantee of that.
So yeah, the Nets are in trouble. Type F pump. Send tweet.