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Is the Chicago Cubs offense for real? 5 numbers highlighting the good and bad so far this season. – The Mercury News

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The Chicago Cubs don’t boast the same star power as they did a year ago. Yet despite subtracting three star hitters last July, the Cubs offense has become more functional and successful.

The typical early season disclaimers apply, but even so, the Cubs offensive profile has made games more engaging for fans and players because of the pace of play. Even when they put up a football score in a 21-0 win Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the game lasted 2 hours, 47 minutes — 19 minutes shorter than the average nine-inning MLB game this season.

The Cubs (7-9) look to get back to .500 during a three-game series in Atlanta that begins Tuesday. While they try to get on a roll, at the very least the offense is more viable than during the first half of 2021 with what was supposed to be a playoff-caliber roster.

The strength of the Cubs offense will be tested soon. In their next 14 games, the Cubs face the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

Is the Cubs offense legit? Five numbers highlight the good and bad.

.347 weighted on-base average (wOBA)

The Cubs are finding ways to score that don’t require home runs, and it’s making a difference in how the offense functions. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) helps quantify the value of a plate appearance’s outcome rather than evaluate all hits equally.

The Cubs’ .347 wOBA ranked first in the majors through Sunday, which isn’t surprising since they also had the best average, on-base percentage and OPS. Their 125 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) ranked second. The Cubs have a well-rounded offense and a lineup that generally is balanced, even on days manager David Ross opts to rest a regular.

A strong offensive profile hasn’t converted to as many wins as it seems the Cubs should have, and their record includes a 2-4 mark versus the Pirates. But their wOBA suggests the lineup will be a strength in the long run, even if the Cubs don’t remain at the top of key offensive categories.

21.2% strikeout rate and 10.1% walk rate

When the Cubs scored 21 runs Saturday, another statistic was nearly as impressive. They struck out only three times in 52 plate appearances and no Cub had more than one.

The Cubs were almost unwatchable at times last season, especially in the first half, with an offense that featured too many swings and misses and not enough contact hitters to offset that. Injuries to Matt Duffy and Nico Hoerner played a role in the Cubs falling apart in late May and into June, which was problematic on many levels.

This year, though, the Cubs aren’t relying on the long ball to score. Saturday’s outburst epitomized what this offense has shown through 16 games: The Cubs hit only one home run en route to 21 runs.

Cutting down on strikeouts while still drawing walks has been a key to the offense’s success. The Cubs’ 21.2% strikeout rate was sixth-best in the majors through Sunday, while their 10.1% walk rate was tied for eighth. Combined with their big-league-leading .273 average, their offensive production has found a balance between swing-and-miss bats and contact hitters — with both profiles showing an ability to draw walks and get on base.

The Cubs will need to keep this up to make up for being slightly below the league average in home runs. Their four-game series against the Pirates showed what can happen if the hits aren’t consistently falling. They can’t count on a home run to bail them out.

Minus-1.5 baserunning (BsR)

The offense’s profile includes one area in which the Cubs haven’t graded out as well nearly three weeks into the season.

FanGraphs’ baserunning metric (BsR) is all-encompassing in evaluating stolen bases, caught stealing and other baserunning plays and converting them into runs above and below average. The statistic can be volatile this early in the season, but the Cubs ranked 23rd through Sunday with a minus-1.5 BsR. They haven’t stolen many bases (four) and have been caught stealing three times.

The Cubs have been above the league average in advancing an extra base, which is helpful for a team putting the ball in play as much as they have.

The Cubs don’t have many obvious base stealers in the lineup, though Seiya Suzuki likely will be on the move more as the season progresses. Manager David Ross wants him to feel comfortable at the plate and on the basepaths before incorporating more steal attempts in Suzuki’s style of play. Suzuki’s speed and instincts would add another dynamic to the Cubs offense.

51.8% ground-ball rate

After finishing with the worst contact rate in the majors in 2021, the Cubs are showing improvement, sitting 12th at 76.2%.

“I do think that’s a pretty sustainable trait,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said last week. “It’ll probably vacillate from time to time with different matchups and different handedness. But I do think that we should be a fairly high contact team — but with that we’re not going to hit as many three-run homers as we once did.”

Notably, the Cubs’ contact rate includes the highest ground-ball rate (51.8%) in baseball. All other teams were below 48% through Sunday, with the Seattle Mariners the lowest at 37.7%. One side effect the Cubs are encountering to putting the ball in play more — and specifically hitting the ball on the ground so much — is the double-play balls they are racking up.

The Cubs have hit into 18 double plays, which led the majors entering Monday’s games. Willson Contreras (five) and Nick Madrigal (four) were tied for first and fourth in the big leagues.

Conversely, only three teams have a lower line-drive percentage than the Cubs (18.4%). The Cubs know they must elevate the ball more. It sounds simple to fix, but looking for balls to drive within an at-bat can require adjusting an approach.

Hoyer sounded optimistic the ground-ball rate and double-play issue will even out over the season. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on.

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Has Victor Oladipo reshuffled the Heat’s playoff rotation? – The Mercury News

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Q: Victor Oladipo’s defense, playmaking and ability to break down a defense prove him more valuable than Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin. That proved true the second he came into Game 4, when Miami went on a run. Scoring will come, but like Erik Spoelstra always preaches, it’s not what’s always in the box score. Sometimes it’s about common sense. I hope he gets regular minutes going forward. — Marc, Arlington, Texas.

A: Actually, it will come down to common sense, the common-sense element of what is available and how a game is trending. Yes, with Kyle Lowry out, the opportunity was there for Victor Oladipo on Sunday night and was seized. Had Kyle been available, the game arguably could have set up differently. As stated since the lineup change to Max Strus with the first unit, I believe the only two givens off the Heat bench are Tyler Herro and Dewayne Dedmon. Beyond that, it all becomes mix and match, with Victor certainly a component of that mix. Even with Duncan Robinson, the opportunities have been brief at times recently. So for Gabe Vincent, Duncan, Caleb and, now, Vic, it very well could prove situational, with the opposing rotation and roster factoring considerable into that equation.

Q: What has happened to Tyler Herro? — David.

A: Winning? Look, the numbers, with the exception of one game, have not been there for Tyler Herro during this series. But what has been there are victories in three of the first four games. So if a player is going to slump, better that it comes while winning. Tyler has been too consistent for too long for his game to simply disappear. And he is too valuable for the Heat to simply turn in another direction.

Q: Hope the Heat already have been scouting Philly. — Ang.

A: Of course they have. One component of the playoffs when it comes to scouting is that it much easier to be able to focus on a single series, knowing that the NBA, unlike some other sports, presets its bracket after the regular season. So it’s not a matter of re-seeding in each round. The Heat have been in attendance throughout 76ers-Raptors, as well as breaking down tape of both teams back at FTX Arena. One thing about the Heat that can never be questioned is preparedness.

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What she broke costs half her paycheck

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Dear Amy: My partner and I are in our mid-70s and live in a small home.

Amy Dickinson

For 10 years we have had a wonderful housecleaner spend three hours every two weeks cleaning our home (dusting, mopping, vacuuming). She does a great job.

This Tuesday, she broke our microwave turntable and said she would replace it.

I called her the next day to ask if she knew when she would be able to get it for us. She said she did n’t know when and apologized. I told her I had found a replacement online and the soonest delivery was Friday.

She told me that we should subtract the amount from her next check for her cleaning services. The total is over half of what we pay her.

Party at my office created unnecessary drama

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: My dilemma stems from being new in a small office where tight bonds have already been formed, and new people are understandably on the fringe for a while.

The problem relates to a small baby shower being thrown for a lovely young mother who is a delight to know.

The words “baby shower” had been tossed around quite a bit my second week, but as a new staff member, I felt hesitant to inquire further unless addressed directly, which I was not.

That was all fine until they had the “surprise” baby shower at the office, and I just stood there empty-handed.

sources – The Mercury News

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Soon, KT will be OUT

The Giants are looking to trade wide receiver Kadarius Toney, sources tell the Daily News, making calls to see what they can get for their 2021 first-round pick.

There was some internal momentum for bailing on Toney during his tumultuous rookie season a year ago. His commitment his came into question behind the scenes during his rookie year due to lack of playbook study, poor meeting behavior and frequent injuries.

The high-maintenance wideout hasn’t shown up to any of the team’s offseason program yet under first-year coach Brian Daboll, either. So the Giants are trying to move last year’s No. 20 overall pick.

Toney missed ample practice and game time from May through December due to a laundry list of injuries: two positive tests for COVID, a hamstring, ankle, thumb, quad, oblique and shoulder.

He got thrown out of a loss to the Cowboys for throwing a punch. And he had a toe or foot issue in OTAs when he wore the wrong-sized cleats and practiced at one point with one shoe on.

New GM Joe Schoen has demonstrated a savvy willingness to keep all doors and options open on the player acquisition and trade front so far. Calling teams on Toney is good business.

Toney, 23, is talented, but he was rarely healthy last season, and his immaturity has been an issue from Day 1.

Daboll admitted on Wednesday that Toney still didn’t have the new playbook because he hadn’t shown up. That’s simply unacceptable.

Last year’s trade back from pick No. 11 to No. 20 did yield an extra first-round pick this year at No. 7 overall from Chicago. But to say the Toney pick at 20 hasn’t worked out is an understatement.

“If you believe everything on the internet you gullable [sic],” Toney posted on his Instagram story Friday night, with a cartoon of Jerry the mouse (from Tom and Jerry) pointing and laughing.

Toney didn’t share his location when he created that Instagram post. But we know it wasn’t East Rutherford, NJ And that’s part of the problem the Giants are wasting no time addressing now.

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Mike Preston: ‘Off-the-charts smart’ Chance Campbell, a former Calvert Hall and Maryland standout, is an NFL draft hopeful

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When Chance Campbell was a ninth grader on Calvert Hall’s junior varsity, the Cardinals varsity defensive coordinator, Vernon Southwick, thought that one day he would eventually contribute to the program.

Campbell’s journey has taken him further, possibly a few days away from joining an elite fraternity: the National Football League.

The annual three-day league draft begins next Thursday and Campbell, an Ellicott City resident and Mississippi middle linebacker, is projected as a possibly Day 3 selection.

“I try to stay out of that,” the 6-foot-2, 232-pound Campbell said. “It’s a weird draft, one that will cover a wide range, so I don’t know what will happen or where I will go.”

Said Southwick: “He is off-the-charts smart. He is an excellent young man, and I hope he gets drafted. It’s hard to get rid of a guy who can walk out there and know all the positions. He has that type of intelligence.”

Campbell has the physical capabilities as well. The former University of Maryland player started 13 games last season for Mississippi and had 109 tackles, including 12.5 for losses, six sacks and three fumble recoveries.

At the scouting combine, Campbell impressed with a 39.5-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10 feet, 7 inches.

Campbell ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, which means he can run sideline to sideline, a necessity these days in the pass-happy NFL.

He is also one of those quick-twitch, energetic guys who can shoot gaps to get penetration in the running game. But his critics his say he sometimes plays too high and often locks onto a quarterback ‘s eye, which makes him an easy target in the passing game.

“There are always areas where you need to keep polishing,” Campbell said. “I have to keep working on getting off blocks, but I think my strength is being versatile, and I’ve always been productive. The league is fast, and I can run sideline to sideline, and I’m happy to show that in the passing game, which will help me.”

His major strength might be intelligence. Often watching tape, it’s easy for Campbell to dissect not only opposing offenses, but also his own defense his.

Campbell made the transition from playing out of a five-man front at Maryland to a 3-2-6 alignment at Mississippi. He had help from Rebels defensive coordinator DJ Durkin, who used to be Campbell’s head coach at Maryland.

Southwick said Durkin’s relationship with Campbell probably resembled the one he had with him at Calvert Hall.

By Campbell’s junior year, Southwick had built the defense around him. They’d exchange ideas and concepts about game plans as easily as any of the Cardinals defensive assistants, and Campbell suggested adjustments during games.

“When I would go over stuff, he was always asking questions,” Southwick said. “He had a lot of freedom to make calls, and that doesn’t happen unless you have a special kid. It was a huge advantage.”

“I’m not saying we didn’t butt heads, but he watched so much film and he was right about 90% of the time,” Southwick said. “He was definitely a leader. In a way, it was almost embarrassing as a coach because he was usually right and he is on the field.”

Campbell has spent the past couple of months training, including several weeks in Florida. He doesn’t mind the workouts because they are the means to a lifelong dream. During the weekend, he’ll be home with his father his, Rick, mom, Kati; maybe his brothers his, Duncan and Trace, and sister, Bailey, will drop in.

“When I wake up in the morning, it feels great because this is a different kind of training, the focus is different,” Campbell said. “I’m excited about the possibility of playing in the NFL, and I know what I am doing now is a necessary step.”

NFL DRAFT

Thursday, April 28, 8 pm

Friday, April 29, 7 pm

Saturday, April 30, noon

TV: ESPN, NFL Network, Chs. 2, 7

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Magic’s Markelle Fultz finished season healthy, comfortable with new teammates – The Mercury News

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Entering the 2021-22 season, the Orlando Magic had two priorities when it came to Markelle Fultzboth of which were going to take time and patience.

The first was helping him become healthy enough to play again after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in January 2021. Fultz’s 14-month-long journey back on the floor ended when he returned in a home win over the Indiana Pacers on Feb . 28.

“He’s done a phenomenal job of getting his body in that position,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said at the season’s end. “Our performance staff has done a great job with him. Our coaching staff has done a fantastic job of trusting the time frame of when he was coming back.”

The second priority was putting him in a position where he could be comfortable on the floor.

With a new coaching staff led by Mosley and several new teammates he hadn’t played with before the season, Fultz was essentially returning to a new team.

Among the 15 players Fultz played alongside in 2021-22, only four (Terrence Ross, Mo Bamba, Chuma Okeke and Cole Anthony) shared the floor with him before the season. And in the cases of Okeke (46 minutes) and Anthony (15), who were rookies in 2020-21, the playing time with Fultz had been minimal.

Despite the changes, Fultz’s impact was immediately felt when he returned.

Fultz averaged 10.8 points (47.4% shooting), 5.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 20 minutes (18 games).

He recorded 10 potential assists — passes to teammates who shoot within 1 dribble of receiving the ball — per game, which was the most among players who averaged fewer than 27 minutes.

Fultz consistently created open looks for teammates in a variety of ways: off drives and kickouts to the perimeter, hit-ahead passes or connecting with cutters.

He also scored efficiently despite attempting 0.9 3-pointers per game.

Fultz made 50.3% of his 2-pointers, 72% of his shots at the rim and 40% of his long midrange shots — all of which were above-average marks for a guard, according to Cleaning The Glassand were similar to his numbers in the 2019-20 season.

“Markelle just breathes life into the team,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said during a recent appearance on FM 96.9 The Game’s Open Mike with the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi. “What we saw was a guy who’s exquisitely talented in creating offense for others, who has a high IQ, who has a crazy physical package of size and skills and vision.

“He actually performed at a level that I probably would have not expected right out of the gate. There was a lot of rust there. He’s got a lot of growth and he knows it. But he’s on a track to [being] a high-level player for our team. Very quickly, we played better with him on the court, which isn’t a surprise.”

Fultz can use this offseason to solely focus on further improving his skill set instead of having to also worry about rehab.

As good as he’s become scoring inside the arc, his limited volume of 3s and percentage (4 of 14 on non-heaves) are areas that could improve.

Fultz’s 75.6% free throw percentage, which is a significant improvement from his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, suggests there’s more room for the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 to grow as a shooter.

“I’m honestly the most excited I’ve ever been just to have a summer where I’m not really focused on rehab or recovery and I can really attack my summer head-on,” Fultz said. “I know I have a few goals I want to hit, but this is the summer I can really focus on my summer and enjoy the process.”

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

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Kevin Durant endorses embattled Steve Nash as Nets coach – The Mercury News

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After the Boston Celtics completed a 4-0 first-round playoff series sweep of his team on Monday, Nets superstar forward Kevin Durant issued his second endorsement of Steve Nash as head coach of the future.

Durant was asked if he still believes Nash, who just completed his second season as a head coach after serving as a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors, is the right man for the Nets job.

“I mean, come on, now,” Durant responded. “Yeah (I believe that). Steve’s been dealt a crazy hand the last two years. He’s had to deal with so much stuff as a head coach, a first-time coach: trades, injuries, COVID, it’s just a lot of stuff he’s had to deal with and I’m proud of how he’s focused and his passion for us . We all continue to keep developing over the summer and see what happens.”

Nash was asked directly if he expects to return as head coach of the Nets next season after two consecutive years at the helm fell short of championship aspirations.

“Yeah, I loved doing this and love these guys, love my staff, love all the departments,” Nash responded. “Really have a great working environment, really enjoyed it and want to continue doing it.”

Nash has been under fire given the Nets’ recent lack of success. After the regular season spiraled out of control due to many off the court factors — including but not limited to Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status, Kevin Durant’s MCL sprain and James Harden’s midseason trade request — Nash’s Nets looked outmatched in their first-round matchup against the Celtics .

To add salt to the wound, Nash’s former assistant coach, Ime Udoka, picked up the broomstick at Barclays Center and swept him out of the first-round with a league-best defense and Coach of the Year votes to tout.

Nash quickly began looking forward to next season, provided he is back. NBA reporter Marc Stein reported the Nets don’t have any intentions of dismissing Nash this summer.

“I think Ben Simmons and Joe Harris will give us a big lift and we’ll see how the rest of the roster rounds out, but we should be excited by that,” Nash said postgame. “Getting two of your top four guys back, two guys with size and one who is an All Star and one who is one of the best shooters in the league. I think that gives us a big boost.

“That allows other guys to fall back into their natural positions where they don’t have to guard big guys every night or play too many minutes where they have to do too much against tall defenses where it can be very difficult for a bunch of guys giving up size at every position. So I think those guys will really help. Obviously the rest of the roster is very key, as well, and so we have this summer to work at that.”

Nash also suggested he hopes to keep his coaching staff intact.

“We’ll see if anyone has a job opportunity to be a head (coach), but (I) really enjoyed working with my staff,” he said. “They’ve been unbelievable at staying together this year.”

Moving on from Nash would set a bad precedent. It would mark the third head coach in as many years since the Durant-Irving era: The Nets dismissed Kenny Atkinson shortly before entering the Orlando bubble, then promoted Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach before demoting him back to an assistant in favor of hiring Nash .

But the fact still remains: His former understudy — who was more qualified for a head coaching job with seven seasons under Gregg Popovich and an additional season coaching Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia — found a way to neutralize Durant in a four-game playoff series and swept Nash’s Nets off their own home floor.

Nash, however, clearly has his superstar’s stamp of approval, and the Nets will spend their summer looking for ways to improve the roster. For now, it doesn’t appear a coaching change is on the way. Though all things are subject to change with yet another championship-hopeful season coming up empty in Brooklyn.

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Max Scherzer blanks Cards for seven, then Mets finish job with wild ninth-inning comeback – The Mercury News

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ST. LOUIS — Though each of Max Scherzer’s last two outings were brilliant, his next start his was even better. But baseball games cannot be won by one star pitcher alone. After eight scoreless innings, the Mets offense finally woke up in the ninth and completed an incredible comeback to duplicate Scherzer’s excellent performance.

The Mets were down to their final strike, trailing the Cardinals by two runs, in the top of the ninth inning when pandemonium ensued. The Mets finally got on the board after nine-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado recorded a throwing error. Then Dominic Smith, pinch-hitting for catcher Tomas Nido, came up clutch with a two-run single to first base, sliding head first into the bag as the Mets took the lead.

Brandon Nimmo padded on with a two-run home run to right field and the Mets completed the late comeback for a 5-2 win against the Cardinals on Monday night at Busch Stadium.

Scherzer threw seven shutout innings and struck out 10 in his no-decision. In his fourth start his as a Met, Scherzer allowed just two hits and one walk across 101 pitches to St. Louis batters. It was the 106th time in Scherzer’s 15-year career that he struck out 10 or more batters in a game, and the effort lowered his season ERA to 1.80.

The three-time Cy Young winner carried a 3-0 record for the first time in his career into his start Monday, but could not record his fourth straight win in part because the Mets offense struggled to generate any runs while he was on the mound .

Scherzer threw the kitchen sink at the Cardinals, incorporating his fastball, slider, changeup, curveball and cutter to whiff one batter after another. Though the Cardinals lead the National League West, seven batters in their starting lineup entered Monday hitting .250 or worse. Scherzer capitalized on St. Louis’ slow offensive start, holding the opposing lineup to an .083 average in his outing.

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Celtics end Nets season from hell with clean sweep – The Mercury News

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This couldn’t have been the clean sweep the Nets had imagined.

Three summers ago, the Nets secured the two superstars (and their plus-one) Knicks fans thought they’d have themselves. They quickly coined it “The Clean Sweep,” signing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in 2019 free agency to usher in an era of championship contention and utter dominance in Brooklyn.

Three seasons later, there’s still no championship, not even a conference finals appearance, and only short-lived glimpses of the dominance they hoped would run the league for years.

The only sweep at Barclays Center exiting Year 3 of the Seven-Eleven era came Monday night.

And the Boston Celtics played janitor.

The term spring cleaning never hit closer to home: The Celtics broke-out the broomsticks with their 116-112 victory over the Nets in Game 4, sending the Nets packing for Cancun — or Bora Bora, maybe even Abu Dhabi — and punching their own ticket for a second-round playoff showdown against the Bucks or Bulls.

To add insult to injury, it felt like a game played at Boston’s TD Garden.

As Nets fans trickled into ‘The Clays’ in the moments leading up to tipoff, Celtics fans arrived early, decked-out in that oh-so indistinguishable green and white. They booed Kyrie Irving during pregame introductions, chanted “MVP!” while Jayson Tatum shot free throws and shouted “Let’s Go Celtics!” as their team started pulling away in the second half.

It’ll be the lasting memory at the Nets’ home arena until preseason tipoff in October. Not only were the Nets players outplayed, but the fans were outfanned on their own home floor.

Durant righted his many wrongs with a Game 4 performance mirroring more of what he showed during the regular season. After shooting 13-of-41 combined in Games 1 and 2, then just 6-of-11 for 16 points in Game 3, Durant cracked the seal for 39 points on 13-of-31 shooting from the field. Just two days after Durant suggested the Celtics got into his head his, forced him to overthink and even second-guess his own capabilities his, the Nets ‘star appeared significantly more sure of his actions his with the season on the line.

But Irving was nearly as absent as Ben Simmons, the All-Star forward whose season ended without putting on a Nets jersey for anything other than promotional photoshoots and limited four-on-four practice. Simmons was absent from the Nets’ bench as the team scrapped for their playoff lives. So was Irving’s production and imprint on the game. His biggest plays his came on a driving layup to make it a 107-103 game with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, followed by a three on the Nets ‘next possession to make it a three-point game.

But this game, like each of the first three, came down to the details. The finest detail proved to be the Nets’ undoing: free throws.

Potential big man of the future Nic Claxton surpassed longtime NBA free-throw bricker Shaquille O’Neal by setting a new NBA record with 10 straight missed free throws before his first and only make at attempt No. 11. And Durant logged his only missed foul shot on eight attempts, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time with 22.2 seconds left and the Nets only down two.

The Nets made their biggest rally at the 2:49 mark in the fourth quarter when Tatum barreled over Goran Dragic, logging his sixth foul and exiting the game for good. They couldn’t, however, get enough stops, rebounds or timely baskets.

And now, their season is over.

It’s over far sooner than anyone anticipated given their standing as a championship favorite entering the season. But against a tried and tested Celtics team, and a mastermind of a head coach in Ime Udoka, the realities of a tumultuous regular season set in at the very end.

From New York City’s vaccine mandate coupled with Irving’s status as unvaccinated, to Joe Harris’ season-ending ankle injury, Durant’s MCL sprain and James Harden’s forced trade, plus the ongoing Simmons saga, the Nets never hit the ground running all season.

Now that’s something they can strive for come training camp. Their home court and practice facility will be ready for business after the clean sweep they endured at the hands of the Celtics in Game 4.

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