The Brooklyn Nets were rolling right along.
They’d won 9 out of 10 games and were quickly closing in on the Boston Celtics for first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
Then, disaster struck. Brooklyn’s run ran into a brick wall when superstar forward Kevin Durant went down with a sprained MCL in his right knee during a 102-101 victory over the Miami Heat. Doctors expect Durant will miss at least two weeks, likely more, due to the injury,
But there is good news for the Nets. Fellow superstar Kyrie Irving is back playing at the top of his game and is currently the leading vote-getter for the NBA All-Star Game among Eastern Conference guards.
Additionally, the Nets have three-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons back healthy. Except, scoring isn’t exactly Simmons’ thing and it’s what Brooklyn needs most with Durant out.
The 26-year-old is averaging a career-low 7.6 points per game this season. In fact, he’s averaging career lows in points, rebounds and assists per game after sitting out all of the 201-22 season.
With Durant out, much more responsibility falls on Simmons’ shoulders. The early returns were…not great.
Fans Roast Ben Simmons For Going Scoreless In Nets Loss To Celtics
Brooklyn’s first game without Durant was about as tough as it could’ve asked for. The Nets welcomed the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics to the Barclays Center.
The spotlight on Simmons was as bright as can be, which isn’t exactly the idea scenario for the Aussie.
Rather than rise to the occasion, Simmons folded in the most apt way. He took just three shots and scored zero points in Brooklyn’s 109-98 loss.
Ben Simmons really stepped up in Kevin Durant’s absence, scoring 0 points on 0-3 shooting 🔥 pic.twitter.com/RjsGzZiw7N
— Jon Asaad (@jaynbablog) January 13, 2023
Simmons owned up to the struggles after the loss.
Ben Simmons after going scoreless on just 3 shots in tonight’s loss:
“I think I’m giving the ball up way too many times when I know who I am, I know I need to get to the rim and get buckets.“ pic.twitter.com/OdISzQvpVC
— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) January 13, 2023
But basketball fans weren’t about to take it easy on him.
Noticed in TNT pregame that the Nets recreate real-game situations with Ben Simmons not shooting in the lay-up line. pic.twitter.com/ImoCV7OJOQ
— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) January 13, 2023
The Nets are in the midst of a serious push for home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. But with Durant out and Simmons reluctant to do…anything really, that push may come to an abrupt stop.