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Nets face big stretches of road, which means more Kyrie Irving

The Nets aren’t the only NBA team to post a significantly better record on the road this season than at home, though their dilemma over Kyrie Irving’s part-time availability makes their situation unique.

After facing the Pelicans on Saturday at Barclays Center, the Nets will play nine of their next 11 games away from Brooklyn – split into four- and five-game segments sandwiched around two home games on January 25-26 against the Lakers and the Nuggets.

Unvaccinated Irving was out of training due to local COVID-19 mandates and Kevin Durant had a night off Thursday when the Nets suffered a blistering loss to the Thunder and fell to 11-11 at Barclays Center this season, compared to 15-4 on the road.

“It’s weird with the home stuff,” admitted coach Steve Nash after the game. “Not just for us, I couldn’t answer [why], but I know we are not the only team.

Kyrie Irving, driving to the basket in a recent game against the Bulls, will play more games as the Nets prepare for a heavy stretch of road.
Getty Images

“I think it kind of goes around the league where teams – good teams, in particular – have less impressive records at home than on the road. I really don’t know why.

Indeed, the Nets aren’t the only top team with an odd home split this season. For example, the 76ers entered their home game Friday against the Celtics 8-9 at Wells Fargo Center and 15-8 away from Philadelphia.

The Nets’ next nine away games will give Irving a chance to get more familiar with fellow Big 3 players Durant and James Harden. He will also be able to acclimate to the rest of a roster, which has suffered six losses in its last nine games while recovering from a near team-wide COVID-19 shutdown to land in the middle of the 41-game season with a 26-15 mark.

“As for the halfway point, obviously we’ve had a tough time lately. When we came back and everyone came back from COVID, I would have said we had a great season,” Nash said. “People thought we would be a top-five or bottom-10 team defensively at the start of the year. For most of this year, we’ve been in the top 10.

Nets face big stretches of road, which means more Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving goes up for a layup in the Nets’ win over the Bulls.

“We found a way to win a lot of games with 10 new guys and no Kyrie and having Kyrie back and then coming back we struggled a bit just trying to pick up the pieces and start over. Otherwise tons to lean on and sometimes when you go through these tough times you learn more about yourself.

Harden noted Thursday night that a daunting schedule this week of four games in five days — including a makeup from a previous COVID postponement in Portland — has left him and his teammates “tired and exhausted.”

“Man, it’s just crazy because of COVID,” Harden said. “[Thursday] was definitely a bit frustrating because we wanted to win. We played so well [Wednesday against the Bulls], so we wanted to have some sort of carryover. But that just didn’t happen.

Nash said he believes the team’s struggles will pay dividends in a second half, which will feature Irving’s subsequent reinstatement, perhaps even in home games, eventually.

“You’re able to approach things more directly, look deeper in the mirror, and work through some of the issues,” Nash said. “I kind of appreciate some of those tougher times because I think it shows a team how to get through it, how to find resilience and how to find solutions.

“Overall we’ve had a good year and we just have to try and get our rhythm and consistency back now that we’ve gotten through this COVID hiatus.”

New York Post

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