Even with all three members of the Nets ‘Big 3’ in health and safety protocol, and another seven sidelined because of COVID, Brooklyn ranked in the top five in the latest NBA power rankings by the NBA, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today.
The Nets have remained atop the Eastern Conference with a 21-9 record and survived a hellish week which saw Durant carry his team until he too had to enter COVID protocol. Both The World Wide Leader and SI moved Brooklyn up a spot to third and fourth, respectively.
The league’s website held the Nets at fifth in its power rankings and USA Today kept them at fourth.
While it won’t happen overnight, the Nets will be getting back key pieces to its roster over the next week or so and that will be a drastic help for a team that has had to cobble together a roster. That and the return to the court of Harden, Durant, and Irving in the near future is what has given NBA observers the confidence to keep the Nets so high.
As ESPN’s Tim Bontemps wrote:
Once all three emerge from their time away from the team, they will have a chance to be on the court together for the first time since the opening moments of Game 1 of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bucks when Harden injured his hamstring.
For now, it seems that Irving will remain forced to play just on the road for Brooklyn. Though vaccine mandates could change in New York City, Mayor-elect Eric Adams hasn’t indicated if he would be making any updates to the protocols put in place by the outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Still, even if that remains the case for the rest of the season, many prognosticators seem to believe that it will make the Nets a formidable foe through the rest of the season. Especially after surviving the week from hell that they had last week.