Steve Nash: 'I Don't Think About' Where Nets Would Be If Kyrie Irving Was VaccinatedApril 24, 2022
Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash doesn't want to deal in hypotheticals as his team faces elimination in its first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
"I don't think about it," Nash said when asked where he thought the Nets would be had Kyrie Irving been vaccinated against COVID-19 all season, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. "That's not realistic. It's not a worthy exercise. We deal with what's in front of us. We deal in reality. And our reality is the one we're facing and if you don't face that reality with honesty and presence you're not going to get anywhere."
Irving appeared in just 29 games all season because he remained unvaccinated.
A New York mandate prevented him from playing in home games, and the Nets started the season by telling him they didn't want him to play on the road as just a part-time player. While they eventually changed their minds on that in light of a roster crunch because of a COVID-19 outbreak, he was still unable to play in home games until the mandate was lifted.
His first appearance at home came on March 27 during a loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
The lack of continuity has been apparent for Brooklyn as it fell behind 3-0 against the Celtics, which Irving himself pointed out:
"We're all just trying to jell. And usually you're jelling at the right time. And that team in the other locker room is jelling at the right time. They've been jelling since Christmas. So for us, we're just in a new experience as a group and we just got to respect that and just bring everything we can to this next game and just do one possession at a time.
"I don't want to be too cliche but I don't have a lot of answers from how you make up time from October until now when usually teams would be jelling and things would be feeling good. You could put it on me in terms of playing better, controlling the game better, controlling our possessions, being more in a stance, not turning the ball over as much—so you could put it on me more of just doing more. And holding the guys accountable, same way I'm held accountable."
Had Irving played all season, perhaps Brooklyn could have finished with a better record than 44-38.
That put it in the play-in tournament, and it now has an unfavorable matchup against a red-hot Celtics team as a result of being the No. 7 seed. If Irving had played all season, the Nets likely would have finished with a better seed and may even have home-court advantage in a different first-round series.
Irving's vaccination status isn't the only obstacle Brooklyn faced in terms of building continuity.
Kevin Durant missed time with an injury, James Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, Joe Harris is out with an injury and Ben Simmons did not play one time all season. Simmons may take the court for Monday's Game 4, but it has the feeling of too little and too late for the Nets.