This was on March 6, inside a boiling cauldron at a basketball arena called TD Bank Garden. The Nets became the losing team that afternoon. They lost to the Celtics, 126-120, Jayson Tatum had dropped 54 on themand his record, at one point an eye-popping 23-9, the best in the East, was now 32-33.
The Nets had also been full that day. Kevin Durant scored 37. Kyrie Irving had 19. The whole band was together at one of the few points up to that point in the season. They still lost. His record still dipped below sea level.
“Worried and worried, those words, it’s easy to do that,” Durant said, perhaps half an hour after the final bell that Sunday afternoon. “It’s easy to worry, it’s easy to be worried and angry and angry. It’s easy to do that. We can point fingers and blame our season on other things.
“But let’s play.”
Everything that has come before is mere anecdote for the Nets. On Tuesday night they host Clevelandand if they beat the Cavaliers at Barclays Center in the opening NBA game, they not only officially lock in the No. 7 seed in the East and a seven-game date with the Celtics, they get four full days off, too. , with Game 1 scheduled for Sunday.
The Nets, who retain their championship ambitions, are not only approaching an inside stretch by taking this path, they’re only starting with a 2 and a 6 and hoping to pick up three miracle cards along the way. It’s not the easiest way to get to Borough Hall from here, but it’s your only way. Survive the game challenge. He then survives four playoff series, with none of those potential Game 7s being played in Brooklyn.
But the Nets have hinted all year that for all the craziness and insanity that so often threatened to throw their season off course, they’ll figure it out when necessary. They have never actually said “we will flip a switch when necessary”. but in fact and in fact that is exactly how they have behaved.
Now they have the opportunity to prove it.
They really need to win on Tuesday and let the Cavaliers worry about a unique challenge on Friday. Even if that game was in Brooklyn for the Nets, they can’t want to be a part of it. They cannot allow the season to be reduced to a 48-minute referendum. What they have to do is channel Frank Galvin in “The Verdict”:
“There are no other cases; This is the case. There are no other cases; EAST. IT IS. THE. CASE.”
Or, translated to the Nets’ predicament: “There are no other games; THIS is the game. There are no other games; EAST. IT IS. THE. MATCH.”
Or, better yet, using the Galvin-to-Durant translator: “Let’s play.”
That should be enough, of course. It should almost always be enough. The Nets have Durant and Irving, and that’s a huge advantage. The Cavaliers, who had been the league’s surprise for most of the year, lost presumptive rookie of the year Evan Mobley for a week late in the year and have also been without longtime Nets friend Jarrett Allen since March 8. and Allen will sit out Tuesday, a clear blow to the Cavs.
It shouldn’t matter. The Nets have their big two, and if they can buy more time, even Ben Simmons could join them at some point. They have never lacked confidence, even during the points where this season seemed to be on a collision course with the abyss. They stay like this.
“We’re going to do it,” Irving said Sunday after the Nets closed the season on a modest 12-5 run by beating the Pacers, 134-126.
Irving looks ready. Durant sure seems ready. The Nets have always asked us to believe them when they say they have extraordinary basketball ahead of them, and not our lying eyes when what we see goes against that. Okay then. As of Tuesday, all previous bets are off. The Nets start to draw toward that straight inside.
Let’s move on.
There are no other games. East Is the game