The Brooklyn Nets entered the 2021-22 season with sky-high aspirations as the favorites to win the championship.
Armed with a Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, along with a deep list of role players, the Nets, on paper at least have one of the most formidable rosters in the league, however as the All-Star break approaches, things aren't exactly going to plan as they find themselves in the Play-In seeds.
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Following Sunday's 124-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets — their eighth in a row — the Nets now sit at 29-24 on the season, good for seventh in the Eastern Conference and when asked about the team's level of concern, forward Blake Griffin described it as "very high."
Blake Griffin says the Nets' concern level is "very high" after an eighth-straight loss: pic.twitter.com/J8Wzpod0Rd— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) February 6, 2022
No team in NBA history has gone on to win the championship after suffering a losing streak of seven ore more games (shoutout to the Chicago Sky, who won the 2021 WNBA title after losing seven-straight games).
Despite being wedged in between the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics — hardly contending teams in their own right — the Nets are only 4.5 games off the top seed in the East, such is the logjam of teams fighting for playoff seeding.
While their current position is of some concern, their lack of consistency, both on the court and in terms of personnel is of far greater concern.
James Harden has struggled to recapture his MVP-level of play, Kevin Durant remains sidelined with a sprained MCL, Kyrie Irving is only available to play in road games and Joe Harris faces the prospect of a second surgery on his left ankle.
Further to that is the growing speculation surrounding Harden's future in Brooklyn, with reports emerging of a potential deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes.
Teammate Kyrie Irving says Harden is “very committed” based on their conversations. “But who knows what’s going to happen?” he added.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown that Harden has told Durant and the Nets front office that he wants to “be there,” as they plan for him to be in a Nets uniform after the trade deadline, saying “there’s a real good chance that’s the case.”
There's still plenty of basketball to be played this season and the Nets' level of talent would give them plenty of confidence they can turn things around, but the clock is certainly ticking on their title chances this season at least.