Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden are playoff veterans who will be looking to guide the franchise to their maiden NBA title.
5 stats that might have the Brooklyn Nets panicking
Since Harden's trade to the Nets, they have widely been considered the favorites to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy at the end of the season. However, there are five stats that should concern the Nets ahead of the playoffs.
#1 - The 'Big 3' have played only seven games together
When the Houston Rockets traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, the basketball world was excited to see the guard team up with Durant and Irving.
However, getting all three on the court together has been a difficult task for head coach Steven Nash. In the 45 games since Harden's trade, the trio have played only seven games together owing to injuries or the absence of one or more of the three players.
The lack of playing time together could cause chemistry issues for the Nets come playoff time.
#2 - Kevin Durant has only 783 minutes of playtime in the last two years
Kevin Durant is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history and a two-time NBA Finals MVP.
The Brooklyn Nets signed the 11-time All-Star in the 2019 offseason to lead the team to an NBA title. They signed the veteran despite knowing he would miss the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign due to an Achilles injury he suffered against the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Since recovering from it, Durant has struggled to stay available for an extended period and has played just 783 minutes this season.
Durant has shown he can produce whenever he is called upon, averaging 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in his 24 appearances this season. But expecting Durant to manage the stress that comes with the playoffs and still produce might be a stretch.
#3 - Kyrie Irving's unavailability
Kyrie Irving is among the more unreliable players on the Brooklyn Nets roster. Although players can take time off to attend to some personal issues, Kyrie has taken three personal leaves and missed a few games in that period.
Given how serious the playoffs are, all players need to be committed 100 percent of the time. It might be hard to get that kind of commitment from the point guard.
#4 - Defensive struggles
The Brooklyn Nets are the fourth-worst defensive team in the NBA. For a team currently second in the Eastern Conference standings, being among the worst defensive units in the NBA should be a worrying sign.
The offense has hugely compensated for the team's poor defensive showing. The Brooklyn Nets are ranked first in offensive rating (118.5) in the NBA this season.
With such offensive prowess, the Nets have managed to dominate and outscore their opponents. However, teams are much more alert and play better defense in the playoffs.
The Nets' offense has been able to bail them out in the regular season, but that likely won't be the case against the best teams during the playoffs.
#5 - James Harden's playoff numbers leave a lot to be desired
James Harden is an exceptional player but has not been able to replicate such performances in the playoffs. James has struggled in every playoff appearance in his career. A repeat of that might pose a serious problem for the Brooklyn Nets.
One of his worst performances was against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in 2018. In Game 5, Harden attempted 11 3-point shots but could not get one to fall. He also ended Game 7 with a 3-point shooting percentage of 15.4 (2 of 13).
Harden has never enjoyed the luxury of playing alongside two All-Stars like he does with the Brooklyn Nets. But Durant's fitness issues and Irving's unreliability could see Harden become the team's leader on the court during the playoffs. When burdened with that pressure in the past, he hasn't been able to carry the load.