Kenny Atkinson, Kyrie Irving
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Despite a relatively underwhelming campaign, the Brooklyn Nets are still in a position to strike after the NBA All-Star break.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Brooklyn Nets have room to be optimistic after building momentum with reinforcements on the horizon. Hell, it’s really been the story of the season up to this point. Brooklyn struggles at full health with rotation complications and lack of intensity, pick up the pace once it’s undermanned… rinse and repeat.

It wasn’t long ago that the Nets were 16-13 with a week until the Christmas holiday with the excitement of Caris LeVert and Kyrie Irving returning to help the effort. All those semblances of hope and jubilee—expectations of climbing up the ladder of the NBA’s hierarchy—were met with the cruel reality of a 4-12 record in their next 16 games.

So yeah, we’ve been on this topic before and history informs us to be cautiously optimistic. However, come on, we’re sports fans, we constantly set ourselves up for disappointment through naive hypotheticals. Why change that now?

It might not be an ideal situation entering the All-Star break but a 25-28 record could technically be worse—all things considered. The Nets are entering the break with momentum. In their last 10 games, they’re sporting a 7-3 record and have recently beat the always tough Indiana Pacers in their own backyard and halted the Toronto Raptors’ 15-game win streak.

With the 17th-hardest schedule for their final 29 games, per Tankathon, it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility that they can hover around a .600 win percentage to conclude the season. That would equate to a 17-12 record for that stretch, which would mean the Nets finishing the season with a 42-40 season. Their exact same record as last year. Or maybe that’s giving an immensely inconsistent team too much credit.

Though expectations entering the season were for the team to build on a successful 2018-19 season by taking that next step, a different set of circumstances clouded this year. Namely, untimely and unfortunate injuries.

With the ninth-ranked defense in the NBA and one—or possibly two, if we count Kevin Durant—of the league’s most versatile offensive threats on the way back, there’s still hope the Nets’ game becomes well-rounded on both ends.

Perhaps LeVert figures out how to play in the flow of the offense alongside Irving. Or, perhaps head coach Kenny Atkinson rolls out a three-headed monster of Irving, LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie at the end of games to torment opposing teams. Or maybe this hypothetical situation is narrow-minded and illogical. But we can still hope.

Securing the seventh seed is of the utmost importance. The disparity between the Milwaukee Bucks and whoever lands the two seed is glaring. If the team is healthy, and that means fully healthy, this could be the most terrifying 40ish-win seventh seed the NBA has seen in recent memory.

Until then, carrying this newfound momentum over into this final stretch of the season is crucial for the Nets now and into April.

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