Kyrie Irving: It's time for struggling Nets to face reality
The Brooklyn Nets have lost seven straight games as they struggle with a host of injuries, leaving Kyrie Irving to make an honest assessment.
Kyrie Irving says now is the moment that the Brooklyn Nets must face the reality of their situation in the NBA but urged the team not to panic. As the returning Donovan Mitchell dominated, Brooklyn went down to a heavy 125-102 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday.
James Harden (hamstring), Kevin Durant (knee), LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) and Joe Harris (ankle) were all again absent for a Nets team who have lost seven straight games. The team were tipped for a championship run this season but have plummeted to sixth in the Eastern Conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Denver to face the Nuggets.
Nets need to get out of their rut
Amid the Nets' worst run of the season, Irving told ESPN: "It's really just where we are, facing reality that we are not winning ballgames right now. We have got to kind of get out of that hole with just one win and then start a new streak from that point. [There is] no time to feel like our season is in doomsday or that we need to push the panic button at all points. But we have to face reality that a lot of guys, a lot of my teammates, we're still getting to know one another, how we play, what's our spots, offensive and defensive tendencies. And then communication - knowing that we can get on guys and guys love to be coached. It's not just from the head coach or the assistants but really just from us as teammates and then trusting that we have the experience to win basketball games."
Irving, who cannot play in home games due to Covid-19 vaccination rules in New York City, insists building a winning culture takes time. He had a poor game against the Jazz, finishing with 15 points in 31 minutes on court after going just six for 20 from the field.
"Myself alone, I can't do it," Irving said. "It's always going to be about the collective unit and how we feel good about being close as a team and then going out there and playing basketball, which is supposed to be fun. But when you're losing and it's a win-first league and a win-only league - you get judged by wins and statistics and how well you put a streak together and how consistent you are. So the spot we're in is going to look like it's far worse than what it is. Being in this league for as long as I have been for 11 years, I've seen ups and downs, experiences. We have just got to trust that we have the group regardless of who's in or out of the lineup to be able to put a 48-minute game together.
"I don't feel like I'm close to where I want to be personally," he continued. "I have mountain-high expectations for myself, but right now I feel like with our personnel, if I'm not shooting well or I'm not playing well or we don't have the same production from guys that we're used to getting it from, it's going to be a tough night. Building championship habits takes time and time is not necessarily always on our side. It is about staying resilient and knowing that there's another level to push to when you're tired and you have all the excuses in the world and you just continue on. You don't hold your head or anything like that."
Rookie Cam Thomas was one bright spot for the Nets on Friday, posting a career-high 30 points.