Nets’ ugly loss to Warriors shows how much Kyrie Irving is missed.
These are the nights you wish there was a cartoon thought bubble floating over Kevin Durant’s head during the basketball game, or maybe a side of truth serum served alongside the chicken and veggies in it. the food after the game.
Because these are the nights when you would really like to know what Kevin Durant really thinks about his current batch of basketball, nights when he takes a close look at his glorious past while reflecting on his deeply uncertain present.
Because there was Steph Curry, Durant’s former running mate, his former championship partner, lighting up the night and taking over the Barclays Center. There was Curry, as electric as ever, drawing the loudest cheers from start to finish, scoring 37 points on just 19 shots, draining nine 3s, leading the Warriors to a 117-99 thrashing of the Nets.
“That’s the level we want to get to,” Durant said, after a surprisingly unusual 6-of-19 night.
Now look, you know where this is going, certainly, because the contrast is delicious. Durant could have played his days with Curry as his partner and trench chief, and it is unknown how many championships they might have added to the two they already have. But Durant chose a different partner.
Yeah. That’s a little different than the one he shared in California with Curry, who seemed to be having the time of his life Tuesday night, chewing on the mic and messing with whatever out-of-the-box Net was trying to protect him.
“We were coming in really strong this year,” Curry said late in the game, after Golden State had improved its NBA-best record to 12-2. “We wanted to establish our own narrative, our own agenda. It is going to be a great year for us to have a chip on our shoulders. We have championship DNA, but it’s been two years since we were able to prove it.”
The Warriors are good and deep. They have a couple of the most intriguing and fun young players in the league, 19-year-old Jonathan Kuminga and 22-year-old Jordan Poole, and some wise hands like Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala and, most telling, they’re still incomplete. Klay Thompson will be back in a few weeks after more than two years of inactivity. James Wiseman will return shortly after.
And, of course, there is Curry.
“It’s unbelievable,” Durant said, and you have to wonder if there were moments Tuesday night, especially after the starters were sentenced to the bench for the duration of the game in the fourth quarter when Durant didn’t let his mind wander. for a second or two. I wouldn’t be human if it weren’t.
Now, even if Irving decides to take a hit on Wednesday and join the Nets next week, there are some problems on this team. It’s evident how wide the gap is between the Nets and Warriors right now, and it’s worrying that the Nets’ five losses have been by 13 points or more, that four of them are for the only good legitimate teams they have. away played – Milwaukee, Miami, Chicago, Golden State.
As James Harden (whose truth serum-inspired quotes could also be quite revealing) put it: “The goal is to be the best team at the end of the season. Right now we are not even close to that. ”
The Nets had every reason to look as ragged as they were. They just completed a six-game road swing, defeating five patsies and losing to the Bulls. Durant’s shoulder is a bit bruised (although he generally refused to use that as an excuse). Joe Harris missed the game with a bad ankle.
And the Warriors are a bear.
Losing is not the problem here; non-competitiveness is. The Warriors knocked the Nets out of the gym in the third quarter, 35-18, and a good deal of that damage came after Curry was forced to bench on his fourth foul. By the time he returned, the lead was 20. And the best team in professional basketball had shown a sold-out crowd of 17,732, many of whom seemed to be cheering for them, and to the rest of the NBA community that their record is no fluke.
“We don’t drink our juice tonight,” Steve Nash said.
They also didn’t have a set point guard, and it turned out to be a night where everyone had to wonder how different things would be if he had been there. And when Kevin Durant had to wonder, even for a few seconds, how different things could be for him with his old wing.