The Brooklyn Nets are still currently the favorites to win the NBA championship this season. But should they be? After receiving an eye-opening beat down last weekend by the Los Angeles Lakers on their home court, without LeBron James or Anthony Davis, it appears that it may soon be time for the oddsmakers to shake things up again at the top of the NBA team futures market.
Maybe we need to all reset and consider just how unbeatable, or beatable, the Brooklyn Nets will really be by the time the NBA Finals rolls around.
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No basketball fan in their right mind expected a Brooklyn Nets team with Kevin Durant in the lineup to get smoked by the Lakers without LeBron and AD. How could this have happened?
One big reason is the absence of James Harden, who is currently on the shelf with a hamstring strain. Since Harden got traded to the Nets, the big three have only played seven games together. How many games will all three have together before playing in the Eastern Conference finals against a fierce and hungry competitor?
Injuries are the central reason that the Nets were able to take over that top spot in the futures market over the defending champions. The Lakers remained the favorite until LeBron went down. It seems that the futures market odds are being influenced a little too much by current injury statuses. Sure, the Lakers are much weaker without LeBron and AD, but both of those guys are resting and healing now, and all signs point to both being fully ready by the playoffs.
James Harden’s hamstring concern should be even more troublesome than the convalescing Davis and James. This is an injury that he has already reaggravated once. If you are worried about injuries, how could you be confident in the durability of Kevin Durant? He has missed more games than anyone on either team for the past several seasons.
Nets with James Harden: 27-7 (.79)
Nets without James Harden: 9-10 (.47)
MVP level impact pic.twitter.com/apwmbHWNji
— arian (@arxanii) April 11, 2021
Off the court drama
The other big concern with the Nets is their issues off the court, or at least issues outside the realm of basketball. The Lakers blowout win over Brooklyn over the weekend was assisted by Kyrie Irving’s ejection from the game during his spat with Lakers guard Dennis Schroder. Irving claims he was called a racial slur by Schroder. Whether you agree with Irving or not for being upset, it certainly makes you wonder what teams may do in the playoffs to try and knock him off focus.
Dennis Schröder on the ejection w/ Kyrie Irving: “we’re competing out there, I think it was unnecessary, but I left my team out there. I don’t know what I did. But I apologize to my team.” #Lakeshow pic.twitter.com/zLOEnXyojf
— Nick Hamilton (@NickHamilton213) April 11, 2021
Kyrie has also missed several games this season due to undisclosed personal reasons. Will those personal days continue to happen in the playoffs?
Kevin Durant’s off-the-court troubles seem to be behind him now that he’s back on the hardwood, but it’s another example where you wonder about where the focus is and to what level the drive is to win the championship. Durant even stated publicly that he is not driven by championships, whatever that’s really supposed to mean. If that’s not where his focus is, then where exactly is it?
And once I won a championship, I realized that, like, my view on this game is really about development. Like, how good can I be? It’s not about, you know, let’s go get this championship. I appreciate that stuff and I want to win to experience that stuff, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of why I play the game.
While most fans seemed to defend Durant in his private message spat with actor Michael Rappaport where he was fined 50K by the NBA, it still was a very bad look for a player of Durant’s stature. Could you imagine MJ or even LeBron sending messages like that? Even privately? Is this guy’s head really focused on being the best player he can be?
Are the Nets too Small? Lakers think so
With very limited time on the court together, and injury concerns swirling, it may be good to wait on that Nets futures bet. With everyone healthy, the Lakers are still the team to beat. See the way newly acquired Andre Drummond overpowered newly acquired Lamarcus Aldridge in the paint on Saturday night?
He dominated the smaller Aldridge, leading the Lakers to the huge win. The addition of Drummond was much bigger for this Lakers team than the more talked about additions of Aldridge and Blake Griffin for the Nets? Why? It’s all about size.
Drummond showed off his size to the world and left Lakers fans everywhere salivating over the prospect of having this guy out there supporting Davis and James.
Speaking of Davis and James, check them out waiting in the wings, gesturing “too small” in celebration of Drummond’s showing of size and power. LeBron and AD are going to be ready to show their own power once the playoffs roll around.
Once the Lakers are healthy, the oddsmakers will course correct and the Lakers will be the betting favorites once again before the playoffs tip off.