Nets Clinch 2021 NBA Playoff Berth After Celtics, Hornets Losses

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) high fives guard James Harden (13) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets have clinched their spot in the 2021 NBA playoffs after the Charlotte Hornets lost to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

The East has its first playoff team. YOUR ππ‘πŽπŽπŠπ‹π˜π 𝐍𝐄𝐓𝐒. https://t.co/HUp3VAiiqN

The next challenge for Brooklyn will be securing the No. 1 overall seed and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The team entered play in first place in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers in second.

Regular-season success is not a surprise for the Nets, after building a superteam featuring some of the most accomplished players in the league over the past decade.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined in 2019, but injuries prevented fans from seeing the pair in action together during their first season. They returned to the court in 2020-21, while James Harden was added in a January trade with the Houston Rockets.

The late-season additions of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, both of whom agreed to buyouts with their previous teams, gave the Nets an incredible amount of talent:

Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA

After landing LaMarcus Aldridge, the Brooklyn Nets now have a combined 41 All-Star appearances and 32 All-NBA selections. 😳 Aldridge joins Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as Nets players who have made an All-Star team and All-NBA team.

While Aldridge retired, players such as Joe Harris, Jeff Green and Nicolas Claxton give head coach Steve Nash plenty of options in an extremely deep rotation.

If everyone plays to their ability, the Nets can make a deep playoff run and advance beyond the conference semifinals for the first time since 2003.

There are still question marks for Brooklyn going forward even with an elite roster, though.

Health has been a significant issue for the team this year. Irving has been in and out of the lineup, while Durant missed about two months with a hamstring strain. Harden then suffered his own hamstring strain just as KD returned.

Even if everyone is healthy in the playoffs, they have had limited playing time all together, and it could hurt the chemistry on the floor. The late additions to the rotation leave even less experience as a full unit.

Nash must figure out how to get the most out of his team for the rest of the year heading into the playoffs.