The Brooklyn Nets suffered their first loss of the season in the opening night match-up against the Milwaukee Bucks.
With a 23 point differential, the Bucks won their first game of the season (127-104), securing an early lead in the first quarter (37-25). In the second quarter, the Nets reduced the lead to seven points, as they won the half by 34-29.
Kevin Durant led the team with 32 points, 11 rebounds and four assists registered while being assisted by Patty Mills (21) and James Harden (20). Mills was on fire, securing 7-of-7 three-pointers, a 100% three-pointer accuracy and 63.6% field goal accuracy. He recorded 21 points, two rebounds and two assists coming on from the bench, while Harden netted 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Steve Nash and his coaching staff have their work cut out for them if they are to challenge for the title, addressing their poor start to the season. Here are some questions about their opening night game against the Bucks.
#1 Is Kyrie Irving's absence critical to the Brooklyn Nets' title campaign?
The Brooklyn Nets' loss in their first game of the season could be argued to be possibly attributed to the absence of Kyrie Irving.
His situation is as of now unresolved and could possibly remain so until the end of the season, as the franchise has resorted to suspending him from playing all season in a bid to get the point guard to get vaccinated.
Irving was instrumental to the Brooklyn Nets last season's campaign, leading the team in field goals and points, securing a total of 1,451 points and scoring 549 times from the field, with a field goal accuracy of 50.6%.
He finished the previous season with 152 three-pointers, second to Joe Harris' 211 three-pointers.
His shooting abilities and basketball IQ will be gravely missed by the team, which might hamper their title campaign as we begin to see with the loss to the Bucks.
#2 Is this Nicolas Claxton's breakout season?
Nicolas Claxton made his entry into the NBA as the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft by the Brooklyn Nets on June 20, 2019. He featured in 15 games with zero starts in his debut season, registering 4.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
The center got more playing time in his sophomore season, securing 6.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game.
He looked sharp in the preseason as he scored 11 points in their final preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, while also registering seven rebounds and one assist. At the opening night game against the Bucks, Claxton was quite fluid on the floor, putting up 12 points and making seven rebounds in 24 minutes of play.
Claxton will most likely get more playing time this season than he has in previous seasons, which might see him transition into the star starter for the Nets. The 22-year-old will be hoping to have his best season yet in the 2021-22 NBA season.
#3 Outside of Patty Mills, can the Nets' bench stay productive?
It was a sore sight to see how lean the Brooklyn Nets bench looked on opening night, with only Patty Mills adding some productivity to the team on the floor.
The Brooklyn Nets bench had very little impact on their first outing of the season, thereby putting a strain on the starters.
Patty Cakes was the only positive from the Brooklyn Nets bench, netting 21 points, all of which came from behind the arc. Mills was 7-of-7 in three-pointers, putting up a 100% three-point accuracy. He spaced the floor, giving room for Durant to drive in the paint, and showed some excellent ball handling.
Aside from Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge and James Johnson both secured a point each, coming off the bench and featuring for 16 and 21 minutes respectively. Jevon Carter was on the floor for 19 minutes and recorded two rebounds, with no points and assists on the scoresheet.