It was supposed to be so much different from how it played out, but it’s undeniable that the experiment of putting Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden together at the Barclays Center failed spectacularly.
The reasons for this failure were not all down to on-court problems, but nonetheless, the Nets will now look to rebuild, having seen Durant and Irving leave, with Harden having departed sometime earlier.
Things don’t look all that rosy for Jacque Vaughn’s side at present, with Brooklyn losing six of their last eight games. They are still well placed in the Eastern Conference, currently sitting in sixth place, but with the likes of the Miami Heat, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Toronto Raptors in hot pursuit.
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The Nets suffered a heartbreaking loss in their most recent game when the Hawks edged them out 129-127, with Trae Young hitting a buzzer-beater to give Atlanta the win at the State Farm Arena.
The loss of Durant has undoubtedly left the Nets with a hole to fill, and Vaughn is well aware of the challenge ahead, stating;
“Yeah, great challenge. It’s a part of basketball, and you can’t feel sorry about yourself,”
“I’m not gonna give them excuses about this, spin a new group and this is only their fourth or fifth time playing together and the lack of practice and all that stuff. People, you can hold on to that.”
“Not going to give that to the group. What we have to do is continue to stay together and believe that we can get it done. That’s the mental hurdle for this group.”
The loss will be hard to take, but it was at least a vast improvement on their last outing when they were thumped by 44 points against the Chicago Bulls, 87-131, but it’s clear that Brooklyn needs to awake from their slumber or face having to fight it out via the in-play tournament to get to the play-offs.
Vaughn is in for the long haul after agreeing to a multi-year contract extension last week, and he’ll need to regroup and get his team moving back in the right direction and at 34-26 for the season, they are still a good bet to make it to the play-offs.
Since taking over from Steve Nash, Vaughn has posted a 32-19 record, and he brings some solidity to the franchise, and a run of 12-1 in December saw him earn the first Coach of the Month award of his coaching career.
Vaughn previously took charge of the Nets in the 2019-20 season, albeit for ten games, during which he led them, Brooklyn, to a 7-3 record during an interim spell.