For the third year in a row, the Brooklyn Nets are headed to the NBA Playoffs.
The Nets became the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a berth in the 2021 NBA Playoffs on Tuesday night with a win over the Toronto Raptors. Even without All-Star guard James Harden and quite games from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn was led by Jeff Green and the supporting cast to get the job done.
Here's more on why is a moment that's Made to Chill…
With one of the league's most talented trios in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Harden, it's clear that the Nets are locked in on winning the first NBA title in franchise history this year.
When looking at the above names, it's worth mentioning that Durant and Irving both know what it takes to reach the mountaintop, with Durant winning back-to-back titles as a member of the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018 while Irving hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
Not only did these two win titles but Durant was named Finals MVP twice, while Irving knocked down one of the biggest shots in NBA history to help lead Cleveland to its first-ever title.
Now, the duo will look to lead the Nets franchise back to the Finals for the first time since 2003.
In addition to the two champions, Brooklyn has two players in Green and Harden, who have each performed on the Finals stage once in their respective careers. While Green did so against Durant in 2018, Harden did so alongside Durant in 2012, averaging 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists in a sixth-man role.
With four players that have been to the Finals stage and two players that have won titles, Brooklyn has plenty of championship DNA that will show itself during this playoff run.
Steve Nash, Year 1
The Nets head coach is getting the job done, and then some.
Not only is this Nash's first year at the helm in Brooklyn, but it is also his first-ever stint as a head coach, making his feat of leading this team to the East's first playoff berth all the more impressive. Given the amount of injuries and setbacks this team has dealt with throughout the season, it makes sense that Nash is considered amongst favourites to win Coach of the Year.
But can a first-year coach lead a team to a title? Well, yeah.
In 2015, we saw Steve Kerr lead the Warriors to an NBA title as a rookie head coach. Four years later, Kerr ended up on the other side of history, as Nick Nurse led the Raptors to their first-ever title in his first season as an NBA head coach, defeating the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Nash isn't doing it alone, either. He's got an impressive coaching staff that includes his former coach in Mike D'Antoni, a future NBA head coach in Ime Udoka and Jacque Vaughn, who led the Nets to an inspiring run as interim head coach last season.
Nash and company have got the X's and O's covered.
This marks the sixth postseason appearance the Nets will make since moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012.
The franchise hasn't seen much playoff success in Kings County just yet, posting a 1-5 series record, with the lone series win coming in the opening round of the 2013 Playoffs against the Raptors. Still, the franchise has experienced some recent success after failing to win 30 games from 2015-18.
In 2019, the Nets were a young fun bunch that stole a game off of the Philadelphia 76ers to open the postseason. Last year, the team hobbled into the NBA Restart without a number of key players and was ultimately swept out of the opening round by Toronto.
But the 2019-20 season was a transitional year, to say the least.
With a bevy of talent on the Nets roster, the 2021 playoffs have the potential to be the most promising postseason of basketball in Brooklyn, where the Nets have yet to finish higher than fourth in the East. Currently in first, the team could earn the East's No. 1 seed for the first time since the 2001-02 season, a year that also ended with a Finals trip.
For all we know, a first-place finish could also set up a second-round Battle of New York with the Knicks, who could finish in the East's fourth or fifth seed.
Now that would be something.
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