The Nets essentially moved all their chips in the middle when they traded for James Harden, leveraging their entire future — in the form of assets and draft capital — to do so.
They were betting on winning a title either this season or next, but fell nine wins short this year, losing to a Bucks team with a history of choking in the playoffs.
But it was the Nets that failed to live up to expectations this year, as the team that was the odds-on favorite to emerge victorious in the NBA Finals failed to even get out of the second round.
And sure, injuries to Kyrie Irving and Harden impacted the team’s performance. But their role players, such as Joe Harris, also disappeared when they were needed most, like in their Game 7 loss to the Bucks.
Milwaukee, however, will host Game 1 of the conference finals on Wednesday, while the Nets will watch from home. General manager Sean Marks says it “hurts,” but also indicated no one is feeling bad for them.
“It hurts. It should hurt, but life moves on,” Marks said, via NBA.com. “Nobody is feeling sorry for the Nets, and we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. That’s pro sports.”
He’s not wrong. The Nets talked a big game, likely assuming the Big 3 would be healthy throughout the playoffs. But that didn’t happen, and they were eliminated far sooner than anyone predicted.