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The Brooklyn Nets’ tumultuous 2021-22 season came to an end when they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, but Kyrie Irving believes the team needed the loss as a building experience.
“We got 4-0’d, my G,” Irving said on Twitch (h/t TMZ Sports). “… We needed that humbling experience, especially going against the Celtics. It was already built to be that matchup.”
He also said the Nets will “see them again” in the future.
On paper, Brooklyn was among the league’s most talented teams heading into last season.
The trio of Kevin Durant, Irving and James Harden alone figured to be enough to defeat most teams, and there were enough notable pieces in the supporting cast to challenge for a championship.
Turns out, that was far from the case.
Irving played just 29 games, missing much of the season because he remained unvaccinated against COVID-19. Injuries limited Durant to 55 games, and Harden was eventually traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that brought back Ben Simmons, who didn’t play the entire season.
There was no stability throughout the campaign, and Boston was the better team that had little trouble in the first-round series. The Celtics parlayed that showing into a run to the NBA Finals, although they lost to the Golden State Warriors on the sport’s biggest stage.
The offseason did anything but quiet the noise surrounding the Nets, as the futures of both Irving and Durant were central talking points around the league.
The point guard ended up exercising the player option on his contract for 2022-23, while the Nets and Durant decided to remain committed to each other after he requested a trade and even offered something of an ultimatum when it came to general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash.
As a result, Brooklyn will remain firmly under the spotlight throughout the upcoming season well before a potential playoff rematch with Boston.
There is enough talent with Irving, Durant, Simmons and others to challenge for a title, but it is also difficult to trust that this group will be on the court together enough to build the cohesion that may be necessary to defeat the Celtics and other Eastern Conference contenders.
It could lead to another humbling experience come playoff time.