The Brooklyn Nets made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2015. With the acquisition of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, things were looking up for the Nets. Durant, unfortunately, was never going to play this season, and now Irving is done for the year as well.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson announced Thursday that Irving will miss the rest of the 2019-20 season after he undergoes shoulder surgery. Irving had played in just 20 games and he was the dominating point guard that he is in those 20 contests. Irving averaged 27.4 points and 6.4 assists.
With Irving out, can the Nets get back to the postseason and possibly one-up what they did last year? In last season’s opening round of the postseason, Brooklyn went down in five games to the Philadelphia 76ers. Ironically, it was the Sixers that beat the Nets on Thursday night 112-104 in overtime.
The answer to the question is yes and no. Currently, the Nets sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Brooklyn trails sixth-place Indiana by 5.5 games and is a game and a half ahead of eighth-place Orlando.
It’s unlikely that the next tier of teams could overtake the Magic or the Nets barring a complete meltdown. The ninth-place Wizards (20-33) would likely be the only team that could threaten Orlando and Brooklyn. That said, yes, Brooklyn should enjoy a return to the 2019-20 postseason.
As far as beating their first-round opponent and advancing, that’s a different story. The Nets do have some young talent. Guard Spencer Dinwiddie (21.0 ppg, 6.6 apg) is a rising star and Brooklyn’s leading scorer. The Nets have some experience in F Taurean Prince (12.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and C DeAndre Jordan (8.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg) and solid scorers in Caris LeVert (15.6 ppg) and Joe Harris (13.8 ppg).
It’s enough to get Brooklyn to the playoffs but not enough to get the Nets past any one of Toronto, Boston, or Miami, the likeliest opponents for Brooklyn in the first round.