The Brooklyn Nets (29-22) remain the heavy favorites to win this year’s championship, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their spot in the 2022 NBA standings. After losing their sixth straight game, the Nets are barely in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Brooklyn is currently the No. 6 seed in the East with only a half-game lead over the No. 7 seed Charlotte Hornets (28-24). The Toronto Raptors (26-23) and Boston Celtics (28-25) are two games behind the Nets.
The top six seeds earn a playoff spot. Teams seeded No. 7-10 have to earn a postseason berth in the play-in tournament.
The Nets’ 112-101 defeat at the hands of the Sacramento Kings (19-34) was highlighted by James’ Harden’s four points on 11 field goal attempts. Kyrie Irving shot 5-of-15 from the floor.
The two stars have been unable to carry Brookln in the absence of Kevin Durant, who could miss a few more weeks with a knee injury. Since Durant got hurt, the Nets are 2-7. Brooklyn had spent much of the season with a top-two seed in the East.
“We just got a lot of different things internally — lineups, we haven’t had no continuity yet,” Harden told reporters after Wednesday’s loss. “So it’s just one of those things where you got to keep going. There’s nothing else to do but keep going, keep pushing forward.”
It could only take a short winning streak for the Nets to climb back up the standings. Brooklyn is just 3.5 games behind the No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls (32-18). The No. 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers (31-20) and No. 4 seed Milwaukee Bucks (32-21) are two games in front of Brooklyn.
Durant was an MVP candidate before getting hurt. The forward leads the league with 29.3 points per game.
Harden’s 22.5 points per game are his fewest in a decade. The guard’s 41.4% shooting from the field is the second-worst mark of his career.
Irving is averaging 23.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He still isn’t allowed to play in home games because he is unvaccinated against COVID-19.
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