Can Brooklyn Make an Unlikely Surge Towards NBA Finals?

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The Brooklyn Nets appeared down and out in their NBA campaign after Kevin Durant was sidelined for two months, losing 11 games on the bounce between January and February. The Nets plummeted from contenders for the top seed in the Eastern Conference all the way out of the post-season places such was their decline without the 2014 MVP.

James Harden seemingly downed tools for the Nets and was traded away to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons along with Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. Harden was supposed to be the support player that Durant required alongside him to push the Nets over the top after their playoff defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks last term. The point guard failed to last the term in Brooklyn, but his old teammates will be determined to prove a point by emerging out of the Eastern Conference to compete for the NBA Championship. Since Durant’s return from injury, Brooklyn have regained their form on the court and defeated the Sixers and Harden.

As a result, you can find value for a bet on basketball by backing the Nets at +550 to win the NBA title even though they are in a battle to finish in the post-season places. The Nets have little margin for error between now and the end of the campaign given their slump without Durant. It highlighted his importance on the court for Steve Nash’s men.

With the 33-year-old operating at near the peak of his powers, few teams in the NBA can compete with Brooklyn. A potential draw against the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo would be daunting in the first round, but it would also give them an opportunity to send the reigning NBA Champions out of the playoffs and send a message to the rest of the league in the process. It is why we love sports so much, a team that was considered down and out of the running a matter of weeks ago now has a chance to go on a memorable run towards a title.

Nash’s team are not at full strength yet as they are awaiting the return to fitness of Simmons, who has yet to start for the franchise. Durant along with Kyrie Irving and Simmons would be a deadly trio on the court, providing teams with mismatch nightmares regarding where to focus their coverage.

Irving proved yet again when Durant was sidelined that he was not a number one option on the court for the Nets, much like the Boston Celtics discovered during his tenure at the TD Garden. However, Irving is a fine complement to a number one player of the ilk of Durant, and he has risen to the occasion when the focus has been on the forward rather than himself. Irving was exceptional for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 in their run to the NBA Championship alongside LeBron James, and he could be poised for the same role once more alongside another Hall of Famer.

Simmons’ arrival is important as the Nets have been lackluster in the defensive third even with their star talent. They perhaps took it for granted that the Nets could simply outscore all of their opponents, but against quality outfits in the post-season, it will be extremely difficult. Simmons is not only an outstanding passer of the ball, but his defensive traits are arguably the best in the league at his position. The Aussie could provide valuable balance for Brooklyn should he regain his fitness.

Health is the optimum word for the Nets down the stretch. If, and that is a big if, their stars can remain fit and healthy on the court, they have the opportunity to pull off a remarkable comeback. It will all hinge on whether Durant can steer the ship without being overburdened. Brooklyn have ample talent but need to rise to the occasion when it matters the most.

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