The Brooklyn Nets are hardly looking like the playoff team they were expected to be this season.
Kenny Atkinson’s men have lost six straight and nine of their last 12, plummeting to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference approaching the halfway point of the 2019-20 season.
It’s hardly the answer the NBA world expected after the Nets upgraded their postseason side with the acquisitions of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
The well-documented problem with that, however, has been their unavailability.
Durant will not appear at all this year while he recovers from an Achilles injury and Irving’s shoulder issue has limited him to just 11 games.
It’s been a barnstorming 11 games, with the point guard averaging 28.5 points and 7.2 assists per outing, but his absence has headlined the Nets’ season and is only felt more while the Nets slump.
Spencer Dinwiddie has continued to step up without Irving, bolstering his All-Star Game credentials. But his 22.7 points per game has not been enough to pull the Nets out of their slump.
Brooklyn has averaged just 99.5 points over their last six — including a dismal eight two-point field-goal effort against the Knicks on Dec. 26. That’s a full 10 points fewer than their season average of 109.7.
The Nets will have Caris LeVert back in the fold for Tuesday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The budding wing returned from a thumb injury on Saturday that held him out for 24 games but sat during Monday night’s loss to the Orlando Magic.
There are high hopes for the 25-year-old in his fourth NBA season should if he can stay on the floor. Through 10 games, he’s averaging 16.7 points per night which would be a career-best.
For Brooklyn’s Tuesday-night opponents, the Thunder, a trip to the Barclays Center could very well be a trap game.
Thursday night will see the Thunder host the Rockets and their former All-Star point guard, Russell Westbrook, for the first time this season since he was traded for Chris Paul and a bounty of draft picks. So they could be overlooking the Nets.
Oklahoma City’s lackadaisical defense could also provide a saving grace for the Nets’ struggling offense. The Thunder are averaging 107.5 points allowed per game this season, which is ranked 12th out of 15 Western Conference teams.