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Brooklyn Nets are sitting their top seven scorers in Indy — and that's not OK
The Nets have been at home for two weeks and are coming off a 7-game homestand. The Pacers will be playing their fifth game in seven days and in four different cities.
A highlight to the Pacers’ home schedule now becomes a dud.
A missed opportunity.
Just after noon on Saturday, the Brooklyn Nets announced that they would be without EIGHT players, including the three players most want to see: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons.
It gets worse.
It’s their top seven scorers.
And their five starters who played the previous night in a win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Yes, this is a good development for the Pacers’ chances to win. The sports books quickly adjusted and the Pacers are now 7.5-point favorites. It also leaves plenty of minutes for former Pacer Edmond Sumner — who missed all last season with a torn Achilles.
But I can’t help but think of the father who bought his son tickets to this game and to specifically to see Durant.
I can’t help but think of the fan who cannot splurge often for tickets, but saw this game, on a Saturday night, as one that was worth a night out. The NBA is an entertainment league and this significantly decreases the entertainment value.
I had a couple friends with plans to go, now they have no interest. “That sucks. I have tickets too,” one friend texted me.
Already, we knew both teams would be on a back-to-back; the Nets hosted the Hawks and the Pacers topped the Wizards on Friday night.
But you don’t expect this, an entire starting lineup sitting and five guys out for “injury management.”
A couple of them, including former Pacer T.J. Warren, who played in his first game in two years a week ago and played last night? And Irving after he played 39 minutes last night? Sure, that’s understandable.
What are we doing here?
Example 42453 of how stars bring out stars: Sitting courtside in seats beside the Nets’ bench last matchup was Colts great Reggie Wayne. He’s back working for the Colts as the wide receivers coach so he’s in town, but doesn’t have a lot of free time during the season.
In fact, I believe this was the first game he’s attended all season — and it was because he wanted to see Durant. The Hall of Fame candidate even posted video of KD on his Instagram, sure to capture the moment and share with his audience.
Because Wayne was able to get a close-up look of Durant, one of the best to ever play. He scored a game-high 36 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter. It was special. And still, the Pacers held them off for a 128-117 win.
The Nets may be hitting their stride now, almost two months into the season. They’ve won six of seven and their only loss was the to the Boston Celtics, who own a league-best 21-5 record.
Saturday’s game should be built as two teams currently in the playoff picture battling it out for the final time this season.
A strange twist to the Pacers’ schedule is that they still haven’t played one game against the top three teams in the Eastern Conference — Boston, Milwaukee and Cleveland — but after Saturday, will have already faced the Nets four times in their first 26 games.
The Nets are 15-12. They’ve lost two of the three meetings to the Pacers this season.
If anyone, it should be the Pacers holding a few players out. Because it will be their fifth game in seven days … in four different cities, three different time zones … and their second back-to-back.
Tyrese Haliburton as well as Isaiah Jackson, who didn’t play last night, are listed as questionable for the Pacers. But that's it.
The Nets, meanwhile, have been home in Brooklyn since Nov. 25 — when they last played in Indy. They're coming off a seven-game homestand.
This is not OK. And it should not be acceptable by the league office.