The Nets have talent. But they also have issues.
And that’s why they’re at home, long since eliminated from the playoffs while another quartet of teams are still alive and vying for the NBA title.
Neither Reggie Miller nor Stan Van Gundy — both covering the conference finals for TNT — was ready to give up on the Nets’ championship window, or call their new Big 3 (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons) flawed. But Miller said the Nets’ wounds this season were self-inflicted, while Van Gundy said their biggest problem wasn’t the roster.
“I think potentially they have the makings of a good roster. The real issue is that they have issues,” said Van Gundy, amending that to “They have a lot of issues.”
The Nets were swept out of the first round by Boston, who hosted top-seeded Miami in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night. The Nets were woefully undersized, lacking on defense and were injured (Joe Harris and Simmons didn’t play). All three flaws were exposed mercilessly by the Celtics.
But according to Van Gundy — who coached the Heat, Pistons, Pelicans and Magic, leading Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2009 — the Nets’ biggest issues may be trust issues.
“Over time — Reggie’s been there with teams — are guys going to look around and really have trust for other guys? Or will they be looking around saying, ‘You know what, that dude is going to let us down. I know he is. We can’t count on him,’ ” Van Gundy said. “And so they’ve got a lot to overcome in that way, which I think may even be more important than the talent they put out on the floor.”
Both Van Gundy and Miller are curious to see what the Nets look like next season once Harris has recovered from his season-ending ankle surgery and Simmons, who arrived in a trade-deadline deal and needed a procedure to fix his herniated L-4 disk, finally makes his debut with the team. Both felt the duo would help the Nets’ size issues, and Simmons should help shore up the leaky defense.
Having to play Irving, Seth Curry and Patty Mills (all 6-foot-2 or under) major minutes together left the Nets positively Hobbit-esque against the ultra-long Celtics. Though of course the Nets shouldn’t have been relegated to a 44-38 record and facing No. 2 Boston in the first round at all.
Durant suffered a costly injury. But even more damaging was Irving missing 53 games due to his refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a decision that not only contributed to James Harden demanding a trade (in exchange for Simmons) but also led to the Nets tumbling to seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.
“You’re right about the self-inflicted wounds, because Kyrie was a half-time, part-time player. So we’ll never know [what they could’ve done],” Miller said. “I mean, they never would’ve been in the situation where they had to play up, play a Boston Celtics in the first round.
“They never would’ve been in the play-in situation if Kyrie played 65, 70 games. I just don’t think they’re in that position there. So until we see their roster and a healthy Ben Simmons and a healthy Joe Harris, it’s kind of hard to assess them, because we don’t know.”
In the wake of the playoff sweep, Irving — who didn’t play until January and logged just 29 appearances, only six at home — spoke of the importance of starting to develop team chemistry next season “in October” to “build trust” and “build camaraderie.” Getting Harris back and Simmons on the floor will be important, but those trust issues may be the most important of all.
Soruce : https://nypost.com/2022/05/22/stan-van-gundy-nets-biggest-obstacle-is-trust-issues/