The Brooklyn Nets are forced to finish out the regular season without Kyrie Irving, and head coach Kenny Atkinson isn’t letting up on the team’s goals.
Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has proven to be one of the more patient and developmental coaches in the NBA. However, he’s beginning to show signs of frustration and urgency as the team struggles after the All-Star break without Kyrie Irving.
The Nets are 1-5 since the All-Star break entering Tuesday night’s matchup against the Boston Celtics. A game that would’ve had plenty of drama surrounding it if Irving were healthy and able to play in front of a jaded Boston crowd he infuriated late last season. Brooklyn’s losses include blowout losses to the Atlanta Hawks and, most recently, a three-point defeat to the Miami Heat.
Atkinson pushed his team harder in Monday’s practice, as he explained during an interview with Newsday.
"“You’ve got to get a little uncomfortable when you’re not doing well,” Atkinson said. “You’ve got to feel that. It’s great having days like this, two days in between games allows you to really practice and get some things done. Felt like we got better today.”"
"“This is our first time together as a group, and it’s not the worst thing in the world to go through these struggles, KD and Ky are not coming in with their capes on and helping us achieve our goal, so we’ve got to figure it out. Great challenge. But I do think this will help us going forward.”"
The Nets are barely hanging in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and can’t spare anymore losing streaks. The absence of Irving will mostly affect the offensive output as the team will need an effort similar to last season. Balance scoring throughout the roster, along with improved defense, will be the essential factor heading down the stretch.
The Nets aren’t going to be serious title contenders this year, but the team needs to show some pride without the services of their superstar duo.