Celtics Getting To Eliminate Kyrie Irving, Nets Ultimate Cherry On Top

Brooklyn rebounding is no sure thing


April 26, 2022

Two max slots, so far, have meant nothing more than two early exits from the NBA playoffs for the Nets.

The Boston Celtics sent Brooklyn packing in emphatic fashion, sweeping the meager Nets in four relatively easy games. At no point in the four-game series did it feel like Brooklyn had any real, tangible chance to win the best-of-seven set.

That’s saying a lot for a group that was supposed to be a superteam and has won exactly three second-round games since teaming up Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

The No. 1 objective for the Celtics was to win the series, no matter who the opponent, and continue a potential march toward the NBA Finals. And, for whatever reason, Celtics players seem to love Irving (and Durant). But there must be some within the organization who are dancing an Irish jig Tuesday morning in Brighton.

The Celtics aren’t anywhere close to achieving that ultimate goal yet, but running through the Nets like a hot knife through butter should validate their team-building strategy. It’s pretty fitting that Irving is on the other end of it all, as he almost helped derail the entire thing during his brief fling with the C’s.

He knifed Boston in the back to “go home” to Brooklyn, but it was more about chasing what he felt was a sure thing. The only times he’s had true team success in the NBA have come when he played Robin to LeBron James’ Batman, and he saw an opportunity to do the same with Durant in NYC. So far, it has failed spectacularly, and Irving hasn’t stepped foot on the court in a conference finals game since being able to hide in LeBron’s shadow.

Irving tried to take a sure thing, seemingly impatient or unwilling to ride it out with the Celtics. Boston, meanwhile, has continued to wait out the development of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, a decision that has looked relatively imprudent at times. To the Celtics’ credit, they ignored the noise and stayed patient. Now, Tatum is one of the best players in the NBA, and Brown is a damn good sidekick. The roster around them complements the duo, and it’s a team built to win now with a legitimate chance to win the NBA title this season.

Perhaps Tatum, Brown and the rest of the Celtics never would have gotten there with Irving on board. Despite Irving’s talent and the apparent love Boston players have for him, it’s hard to argue it would have worked out in the long run. We just saw one way in which it could have played out with Irving gone.

The Nets are now left to pick up the pieces. They seem to be chasing a potentially outdated NBA business model, building a “Big Three” and augmenting around the margins with big-name, over-the-hill stars-turned-role players. The only problem with that, though, is Star No. 3, Ben Simmons, doesn’t seem very interested in playing basketball. Irving expressed his confidence in and support for Simmons in the long run, but that’s a massive question mark.

Irving, meanwhile, has stated his public intention on remaining with the Nets in what he called Monday night a “co-management relationship” with Durant and the front office.

Gee, where have we heard that one before? Good luck with that one, Brooklyn.

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving
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