Net According to Plan

Net According to Plan

(Brooklyn Nets AP)

From going to NBA title favorites to now fighting to stay in contention for the play-in tournament, the Brooklyn Nets have had a torrid season. It has been an uphill task all season with only Kevin Durant putting up game-winning performances, with James Harden either not at his best or injured, and Kyrie Irving unable to play because of the vaccine mandate in the city. The Nets have lost 13 of their last 15 games, most recently blown out by twenty-three points by the Boston Celtics on the return to the regular season post-All-Star Game. Why are things not going according to plan?

Well, Joe Harris, a former 3-point contest winner is out for the season with an ankle injury. Harris was a nailed-on starter, and the Nets are missing the additional 15-20 points he puts up a game. Although playing only eleven games this season, he averaged 11.3 points, on 45% shooting from the field. Back to his previous accolade of winning the 3-point contest, he averages 46.6% from deep, which ranks him 1st in that category.

Kevin Durant has been overworked. Without his wingmen being consistently present or performing at a high enough level, and the role players not living up to that tag, Durant has been forced to take every shot. Now since he was ruled out with a sprained MCL on the 15th of January against the Pelicans, the decline has shown in the team’s results. Brooklyn have won 4 games during this period, losing a league-high 14 games, including 11 straight. This has been shocking.

(USA Today Sports)
The two in the above picture (Kyrie Irving [left], and James Harden) have not made the journey much easier for the Steve Nash led team. With your best player out, you need the supporting cast to offer a sense of control, to show they are not 100% reliant on any single player. Irving has been barred from playing due to health and safety protocols in New York, more specifically a vaccination mandate. During the post-Durant run, Irving has featured in eleven of the eighteen games, being 1-10 during that span.

Harden, who is no longer with the Nets, didn’t play like James Harden of the past. He has a new hamstring injury that he never used to have. You got to look at it from his perspective, I came here because Kyrie and KD said they could win a championship, and I am not getting any younger, want to win. I didn’t sign up for this. Maybe why he went to join MVP front-runner Joel Embiid in Philadelphia.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for Brooklyn though, to turn their season around. The vaccine mandate looks like it will be lifted so Kyrie will be available for home games, Durant is on his way back “feeling stronger” from his MCL sprain, and Ben Simmons is a Net. Simmons can’t shoot we know that, but in this team, his physique will be key in isolation when setting screens and points in the paint.

They also received Seth Curry and Andre Drummond in the Simmons-Harden trade so they got a shooter and a rebounding machine. When fully fit, the starting five could look like; PG Kyrie Irving, SG Seth Curry, F Kevin Durant, F Ben Simmons, and C Andre Drummond. This lineup seems dangerous but can they perform together? Could Steve Nash get the best out of them? Is he even good enough to do that?



(Getty Images)
AND BREATHE! What a pulsating climax to the NFL season that was in SoFi stadium resulting in the Los Angeles Rams being crowned Super Bowl LVI (56) Champions. What a season it has been for LA, culminating with a 23-20 win over the Cinderella story Cincinnati Bengals, leaving QB Joe Burrow with a real footballing lesson.

The Rams got off to an early lead with Matthew Stafford finding Odell Beckham Jr. In the endzone for the game’s first score. Watching that I kept saying “Odell was the problem wasn’t he? CLEVELAND ARE YOU WATCHING?” Unfortunately, OBJ had to be helped off the field in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury which temporarily shifted the momentum.

Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp was being doubled all ends up since then leading to Stafford trying some unwarranted throws leading to a lot of dropped passes and the interception when targeting Van Jefferson. This is where the Bengals began to make their mark. When Joe Mixon found Tee Higgins for the first touchdown for the offense, yes you read that right, the Bengals closed the early lead set by the Rams, and with the place holder messing up the extra point for Matt Gay after a Cooper Kupp score, apart from mathematically, the Bengals were on top.

(Getty Images)
After the stupendous halftime show with stars Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Fifty Cent, and Eminem, who as usual had some controversy attached to him, Burrow came out gun slinging with a dart down the sideline to Tee Higgins who quite clearly had the grip of Cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s face-mask, which should’ve been called but not even checked by the referees, and led to the Bengals taking the lead 17-13.

After some frustrating plays later and the lead being extended by Cinci, Aaron Donald and Von Miller took over. Donald usually is guarded by two offensive linemen, had Von Miller now playing like a defensive end instead of linebacker that he does. The big conversation begins at 3rd & Goal for the Rams down by four, Stafford aims for his favourite target Kupp but the pass was broken up by Logan Wilson – but the flags fly. “Holding, Defense number 55, automatic 1st down.” That call was as far away from the truth, but in fairness, they were just making up for the no-call to start the half.

(Andrew Joseph – USA Today)
This led to extending the drive, and to the game-winning touchdown by Cooper Kupp to put the ball in Burrow’s hand with 90 seconds remaining. One thing that I was convinced of was Burrow cannot lead a team to a touchdown within the last two minutes, to a field goal maybe, but never a touchdown and it showed Sunday night. 3rd and 1 and for some reason, Zac Taylor decides to run the ball and that backfired.

Aaron Donald being held by the offensive lineman used only his right hand to stop Samaje Perine from getting that one yard. Perine is 5”11, 240 lbs, and was stopped with ONE HAND. Now, this is it, this is the game. 4th and 1, the ball in the hands of the QB, sounds like the NFC Championship game and we know how that ended. “Burrow trying to keep it going, spun down, gets it away and incomplete” was the call from Al Michaels as Aaron Donald got through to secure his first Super Bowl title.

Well deserved victory for the Rams who sacrificed so much to build this team, with Sean McVay at the helm, the first ring for Matthew Stafford in his 13 seasons, and a first for Andrew Whitworth, Walter Payton Man of the Year. Commiserations to the Bengals but if they can protect Burrow next season, they will be back, because to be sacked 70 times and play in the Super Bowl, they are gonna be dangerous.



JOE NO!(CBSSportsHQ via Twitter)
Joe cool has had the postseason at his mercy this year, betting against the Las Vegas Raiders, out-muscling the Titans, and pulling rank on the Chiefs, he is looking to lead his team in the Super Bowl to block the Rams. Burrow has shown his arm strength and his elusiveness when escaping Frank “the tank” Clark in Arrowhead to continue the drive so the Bengals could roar for another day.

Joey franchise is gonna again step out as an underdog, as he has been throughout the playoffs, and with the weapons he has, it’s about time they get the respect they deserve. Ja’Marr Chase, who will undoubtedly be the Offensive rookie of the year, Tee Higgins who is the secret weapon in crunch time, and Joe Mixon who pounds the ground harder than Tyson vs. Holyfield, the weapons at his disposal make for a mouthwatering clash.

The thing is getting those weapons into play when you got a man by the name of Aaron Donald who needs at least two people to guard him, and for Joe, his legs are gonna have to be utilized more than he may have wanted to. That Bengals O-Line that gave up 9 sacks against the Titans, 51 during the regular season, which was the most this season, will have their work cut out for them against this Rams D-Line.

(FOXSPORTS via YouTube)
Aaron Donald, the biggest name on the defense, but this team is a UNIT. Donald, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd, and Jalen Ramsey who has made it clear he wants to mark Chase for the final, this is gonna be a true game of offense vs. defense.

Let’s not forget the guy on the other side of the spectrum compared to Burrow; Matthew Stafford. Stafford is finally showing his worth and it is because he is in an organization where he has help not named Kenny Golladay or Calvin Johnson. He has the #1 target in football Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr, and a returning Cam Akers to help pull that Rams team to the ultimate goal.

Protection will be a bit weak with Andrew Whitworth trying to shake off a continuous knee issue but should be ready for the final. The Bengals have a recipe that they’ve been using which ends with the statement “this is why you draft a kicker.” That has been the phrase for the last couple of weeks by the Cincinnati twitter admin and they are right. Leaving it to someone who has ice in his veins to knock through anything between 20-65 yards the message is clear; DO NOT LET IT COME DOWN TO A FIELD GOAL.

Are The Nets In Trouble?

Are The Nets In Trouble?

With the recent trade for Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, Seth Curry, and two first-round picks, in exchange, the nets have sent shooting guard James Harden and forward Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers. So what does this mean for the Nets?
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 16: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half against the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center on January 16, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
For one, it means that their nine game losing streak could come to an end but nothing is guaranteed in the NBA. Simmons hasn’t played a game since last years playoff run against the Hawks where his performance was subpar at best but ultimately hurt the sixers in the end losing the series 4-3.
However, personnel-wise the Nets have gotten a little bit better. Why? Well, because the Nets got bigger. This new lineup can consist of Kyrie Irving/Patty Mills/ Seth curry, Patty Mills/Seth Curry, Kevin Durant/Ben Simmons at the 3 or 4 spot, depending on how Nash sets up the lineup, and now Andre Drummond starting at the center.

For the 76ers this is huge because now they have an all-star caliber guard without having to give up anything too major aside from draft capital. Their new lineup can consist of James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid. Sixers fans can only hope that with Harden acquired they can finally make a push for the finals after getting knocked out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals almost every year.
But again what does this mean for the Nets? Brooklyn can either get worse or be the team that every fan and analyst knows they are. With Irving’s part-time availability heavily affecting the team in a negative way, the Nets can either finish this year strong and make a push for the playoffs or tank the rest of the season and put those two first-rounders to use.