Kyrie Irving fired a fiery warning shot at the Brooklyn Nets, who he dropped to 10th seed in East after losing to them for the second time this season.

 

The Brooklyn Nets are in new territory. They’re still among the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, according to FanDuel. They wouldn’t even be in the playoffs right now if it weren’t for the NBA establishing a play-in tournament, which is amazing to think about.

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The Nets and LaMelo Ball’s Charlotte Hornets are tied for 10th place in the rankings. The Nets are the only play-in team that should scare any of the East’s best teams, but they must first advance to the first round.

After the Nets’ 122-115 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks, Kyrie Irving, who has been in a shooting slump since returning to full-time status, was questioned about the team’s peculiar situation as a putative contender with so few games together and now hanging at the bottom of the play-in bracket. Do they ever pause to consider how odd this is?

*For a discussion on play-in situations and likely first-round matchups, listen to the latest Nothing But Nets podcast.

For reporters, Irving had a striking parallel.

“You go home,” Irving said, “and this is simply a metaphor.” “You go home, you get your bulletproof vest, go get your handgun, go get your rocket launcher, ya go get your AK, ya go get everything, load up all the ammo, this is just a metaphor people, but you go home, you get ready for war, and you don’t just live with the results, but you go out there with a mental focus and a no-fear attitude, and you really play for each other,” says one soldier.

“This is only a metaphor; go home and fetch your bulletproof vest, handgun, and rocket launcher… When you go home, you prepare for battle… You go out there mentally focused and fearless, and you really play for each other.”

-Pic.twitter.com/PQWW75m63d -Kyrie Irving

April 3, 2022 — DaveEarly (@DavidEarly)

The Nets have secured a play-in spot, which is the “good” news. That implies they’ll finish somewhere between the No. 7 and the No. 10 seeds. According to Basketball-Reference.com, they have a 70 percent chance of finishing as the No. 9 or 10 seed after the last four games. In the first play-in game, whether they are the 9 or the 10 will decide home-court advantage. That game would be a single-game elimination contest in Charlotte against LaMelo and the Hornets as of today. The loser decides to go fishing.

*With fuboTV (click for a free trial), you can watch NBA games in real time.

If they lost like that, their season would be finished, and they’d have to deal with some serious summer issues. At this point, Kyrie Irving’s free agency seems to be a foregone conclusion. Another concern is if they’ll trade Joe Harris along with the Sixers’ newly acquired choices, as well as the futures of Andre Drummond and Nic Claxton.

They’d travel to play the loser of the 7-8 game if they won. As of now, it’s either Cleveland (who has struggled terribly without Jarrett Allen, who has been sidelined since March 7 due to an injury to his middle finger) or the Hawks. While the Hawks aren’t world beaters, if Saturday’s game is any indicator, they’re talented enough to take Kevin Durant’s best 55-point punch in the mouth and still win at home.

As a result, the Nets may need all of those figurative rocket launchers and AK-47s. Is this a sleeping giant that didn’t get to play many games together, or did we just take too long to notice that they’re already planning for the 2022-23 season in certain ways? It will be interesting to watch how this develops.

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