NBA analysts and fans have continually raised the ceiling for the Brooklyn Nets. When Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined forces two years ago, they immediately tagged them as legitimate title contenders though it took one full season to see them in action together. This season, after the James Harden trade and the Blake Griffin acquisition, it was almost crystal clear to fans and analysts that the Nets will be the one to represent the East in the NBA Finals.
After two convincing victories over the Boston Celtics, there are some whispers on how the Nets could possibly go undefeated in the postseason and win it all. It's a reasonable expectation. Head coach Steve Nash has proven that he has the talent to be an NBA coach. He definitely has the advantage as he was gifted with four superstars, three of which are at the height of their powers. But people tend to forget that not all powerhouse squads with superstars have achieved success. All in all, we cannot discount the fact how much of a splendid job Nash has done in Brooklyn.
However, firmly believing that the Nets could go 16-0 and win it all this season is nothing but a vast underestimation of other NBA teams. The NBA Finals is a miles away. Right now, the only acceptable forecast is the Nets will boot out the Celtics in four or five games.
In the second round, the Nets will face the winner of the series between the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets seem well-equipped if they face the Heat. But what if they face the Bucks? A team loaded with playoff experience with a two-time MVP at the helm? On paper, the Bucks are the more complete team.
They can execute their offensive and defensive sets cleanly. But let's say they manage to boot out the Bucks. They'll likely face the Philadelphia 76ers which have been solid all season long. Will DeAndre Jordan stop Joel Embiid? I don't think so. Nash doesn't even play Jordan that often.
The Nets, meanwhile, for all their offensive prowess, are a very weak defensive team. In the regular season, they had a 113.1 defensive rating for 22nd in the league. Among teams that qualified for the postseason, this is second to the last. History has proven that a high offensive potency doesn't guarantee titles. Just look at the Phoenix Suns of the mid-2000s. When the Golden State Warriors won three titles in four years, they were one of the top defensive teams in the league.
Apart from other teams, the Nets have plenty to worry about within their system. They still have a penchant for playing iso ball, a weakness that Kyrie Irving himself raised during the latter part of the regular season. Somehow you can't blame the Nets for doing this. They have three of the best isolation players in history at the same time.
But Irving knows how the playoff works. Isolation ball only allows the defense to key up on the offensive team. It worked its wonders in the regular season. But smart teams like the Bucks, Heat, 76ers, and the Lakers know how to play against this type of offense.
All in all, amid all the hype surrounding the Nets, the team still has a lot to work on within their team. At this point, we can only say the Nets are an offensive powerhouse — nothing more, nothing less. The deeper they get into the playoffs, the tougher it will be given their style of play. It would be foolish to assume that the Nets will suddenly be an offensive powerhouse in a span of a few months. The Nets, as they are, can be defeated by a couple of NBA teams.