Tag Archives: Under

Nets banking on their injured superstars to save them

The Nets are under the impression that a complete, healthy roster will answer many of their problems.

Sitting in eighth place of the Eastern Conference just over halfway through the season, the Nets have pieced together an 18-24 record despite having several of their offensive leaders out with injuries for a substantial number of those games.

There’s no telling what the Nets will be capable of once the entire roster is healthy but they’re banking on a significant boost — especially when Kevin Durant (who will not play this season after Achilles tendon surgery) makes his Brooklyn debut to go along with Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, both of whom have missed time with injuries.

“If you look at it, we have a quote-unquote Big 3 … right?” Spencer Dinwiddie said following practice Wednesday. “Those Big 3 through 41 games, could’ve played a grand total of what? 123 games? Right? They’ve probably played like 40. And we’re still in the playoffs.

“You never make excuses — we have the next-man-up mentality — but name another team that has done that?”

The Nets’ best stretch of the year came just after Irving (shoulder impingement) and LeVert (thumb surgery) were injured in mid-November, but the recent absences of DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple eventually took their toll on the team’s offensive prowess.

Irving returned to the lineup on Jan. 12 against the last-place Hawks, a 108-86 win, before the Nets crumbled in four straight losses. In their most recent loss to the 76ers, Irving didn’t play because of hamstring tightness.

The Nets, however, have said from the beginning that Durant wasn’t going to play this season. And they had to have known the health concerns they were getting with Irving, who will have played 70 games in a season just once in the past five years. LeVert also will have appeared in 70 games just once in his four seasons in the NBA.

“Obviously, if the guys who are getting paid to score are out and your offense struggles, it’s kind of like …” Dinwiddie said with a shrug of his shoulders. “It’s kind of why they’re here. It’s no fault of their own. Injuries suck, they really, really, really suck. But we expect the team to come together as a unit as we get healthy and continue to round into form.”

Irving and LeVert have played together in just 13 games this season. Given the fact the two haven’t had many opportunities to play side-by-side, it’s difficult to discern just how much better the Nets can be with both as part of the rotation — though they are just 5-8 when both play.

Thursday’s matchup with the Lakers at Barclays Center will conclude a tough stretch for the Nets, who have lost four consecutive games to the Sixers (twice), Bucks and Jazz.

The Nets’ inability to match up with top-ranked opponents has been the grim reality this season, but it’s worth mentioning they have faced many of those teams without their core players. The Nets (.429) are 5-15 against teams .500 and above. For comparison, the Lakers, who have a 35-9 record and are 23-1 against teams with below .500 records after their 100-92 win over the Knicks on Wednesday.

“I just think the healthier we get, the better we’re going to be,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “That’s all. We just have to get consistent, consistently healthy. Get reps under our belts and we have enough talent here, enough players, we’re just right now going through a tough time of guys being in and out.

“Once we can get those ducks in a row and really start knocking out some games, where we got consistent lineups and consistency in terms of our health, we’ll get better. It’s that simple.”