The Brooklyn Nets went unbeaten in a four-game streak against some of the lower teams in the league and improved their overall record from 5-8 to 9-8. They did this without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving who remains out with a shoulder injury.
Spencer Dinwiddie replaced Irving in the starting five and has led the Nets in scoring in seven of the nine games Irving has missed.
The Nets recently played an entertaining and controversial back-to-back with the Boston Celtics. The first game was in Boston was all about Kyrie, despite the guards absence. The former Celtic was on posters around TD Garden with the word ‘COWARD’ placed across his face. Celtic legend Paul Pierce said before the game that should Kyrie travel with his Nets team to Boston he would be given the biggest boos in Celtics history.
‘Kyrie Sucks’ chants were also belted out at several times during a game where his replacement Kemba Walker made his return from a neck injury with a 39-point performance. Dinwiddie struggled; shooting just 5-of-19 from the field. Nevertheless, the great thing about back-to-backs is that you have an opportunity to exact your revenge the next day.
And that’s exactly what the Nets did. In the Barclays Center (a trip Kyrie did make), the Nets defeated the 12-4 Celtics behind a stellar 32-point performance from Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie also had 11 assists as the Nets confined Kemba Walker to just 17 points on 6-19 shooting.
The Nets Odds Cooled Down Against the Heat
Next up was the Miami Heat for the Nets who sit 3rd in the Eastern Conference. The Nets lost 109-106 due to two clutch free throws from Jimmy Butler after he was fouled by Dinwiddie. The Nets guard had an opportunity to make up for the foul with two shots in the last seconds of the game, but they didn’t fall and it allowed the Heat to leave Brooklyn with the win.
That left the Nets with a record of 10-10 having performed admirably without Kyrie, and amassing a record of 6-3 in his absence. According to Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Kyrie has begun on-court work but has yet to do any contact work. Kyrie’s impending return has led some people to wonder what will happen to Dinwiddie’s place in the starting five.
When Atkinson was asked on what that specific subject, he said he would “cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Dinwiddie has been a bench player for most of his career and while some may think he wouldn’t want to give up the limelight he’s experiencing now, the man himself had other thoughts on his role in the team.
“If you don’t roll with it, you will be out the league.” Dinwiddie said. “You don’t have a choice. I could be out here trippin’. If you roll with it, we figure it out and I get to stay and sometimes, every so often, I’ll have a game.”
How Dinwiddie’s Play is Helping the Nets Odds
The Nets next face the lowly Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in what would be one game closer to the return of Kyrie Irving. The Hawks have a league-worst record of 4-16 and are currently on a 10-match losing streak.
The Hawks are fresh off giving up 158 points to the Houston Rockets. The Nets odds see them as the favorites, sitting at -270. The Hawks are the undoubted underdogs with odds of +250 to claim their first win since defeating the Denver Nuggets last month.