Sport Nets ‘next man up’ mantra faces biggest test down two superstars

07:40  14 june  2021
07:40  14 june  2021 Source:   sbnation.com

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The team’s mantra , “ Next Man Up ,” will have to be in full effect. Thus far, without the presence of Irving on the hardwood, the Nets hone a respectable 17-16 record. Not shabby, not exactly breathtaking either, but that’s what they are… a team hovering around the .500 mark without their key stars . This final stretch will also likely determine the final course of action Sean Marks takes this upcoming summer, who fits and who will be flogged for returning assets deemed more complementary. Until then, the once-again depleted Nets will have to hold their ground and rely on the next man stepping up .

But the ‘ next men up ’ say they are ready for the challenge. In a span of three days, Denver has lost two All-Pro starters in Chris Harris Jr. and Emmanuel Sanders. “We’re all ready to just step up and be the next guy up , be the next person to make plays for this team,” said Hamilton, adding that while

“Next man up.”

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We’ve heard those three words throughout the rigors of the regular season — a season that featured a franchise-record 38 different starting lineups and injuries to the stars to the reserves. That mantra and mentality have opened the doors for several players to make a name for themselves and snag an increased role. Brooklyn hoped the phrase was left back in the regular season, but now the “next man up” mantra has reached its biggest test.

A lot has changed since Brooklyn’s gentleman’s sweep of Boston in the first round. The Nets took Games 1 and 2 in dominant fashion over the Bucks and strolled into Milwaukee with a commanding 2-0 series lead and two healthy superstars and enough poise to advance to Eastern Conference Finals. A couple of days later, the Nets fly back to Brooklyn with the series knotted up at two games apiece ... and down two of their “Big Three.”

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' Next Man Up ' Becoming Mantra of 2019 Steelers. " Next man up ." Ben Roethlisberger. Roosevelt Nix. All of these players have missed or will miss significant time. Two of which, maybe even three, suffered season-ending injuries. No matter who goes down with an injury, someone has to step up and make an impact like Alualu.

One can say “ next man up ’’ only so often because after a time the next man up is a problem not a solution. If you think otherwise, go watch tape of a backup linebacker named Eric Alexander being scorched in critical moments by Peyton Manning in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.

The Nets have been losing their big players in the biggest games of the season. James Harden suffered another hamstring injury — which the Nets diagnosed as right hamstring “tightness” — 43 seconds into Game 1 against the Bucks. He’s missed the past three games. Steve Nash said Harden will need to string together a series of “high-intensity loads” before being cleared to return. That doesn’t sound promising.

Nash said that of course before the Nets faced their latest blow in the Game 4 loss to Milwaukee. Kevin Durant passed the ball to a cutting Kyrie Irving from the left wing. Irving rose up, completed the push shot and cut Milwaukee's lead to 44-40 with 6:04 remaining in the second. But in the process, he rolled his right ankle coming down on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot. The early diagnosis, which will be confirmed following an MRI and evaluation Monday, is a sprained ankle. An X-ray confirmed there was no break.

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President Donald Trump campaigns on a no more "stupid" wars mantra , but the US killing of Iran's military mastermind will test his ability to stay out of Middle Eastern quagmires less than a year from election day. But while Republicans publicly approve the Soleimani killing, Democrats claim Trump is now going down precisely the warmongering path he long railed against. "Trump's dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars," leftist Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said.

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After laying on the court in pain and grabbing his right ankle, Irving was swarmed by team trainers. After the dust settled, he was able to gingerly walk under his own power to the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the pivotal game. It was later reported that the Nets guard left the arena in a walking boot and crutches.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen with Kai in the coming days. We’ll cross our fingers and hope it’s better than missing the next game,” Nash said.

In the wake of Irving’s injury, the Nets head coach made it clear that he doesn’t plan to speed up or rush Harden — who missed 18 straight games and 20 of 21 games to hamstring issues. The Nets head coach's comments on Harden’s status did not add any optimism that would alleviate Brooklyn’s mounting anxiety.

“I think it’s an independent case. I don’t want James to be rushed back. If he’s able to play next game and the game after, that’s fantastic. If not, I don’t want to rush him back,” Nash said.

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Second , the match award went to seamer Matt Henry, who is unlikely to play in Friday’s World Test Championship final against India . It was quintessential New Zealand: unobtrusive excellence on the one hand, enviable depth on the other. But how do they do it? ‘We play a brand of cricket that we’re proud of as Kiwis.’ A mantra of ‘keeping things simple’ wasn’t aimed at England, with their complex rest-and-rotation policy, their plethora of odd batting techniques, and their obsession with the Ashes when there are important Test matches staring them in the face .

Luka Modric sees the game differently. He was the best midfielder I ever played with. He made me realise how differently midfielders in England had been brought up and why we failed so often in major tournaments. We were one-dimensional. Everything was in straight lines. I remember we played a League Cup game at Newcastle. I was an experienced member of the dressing room. By the time he came on in the second half we were 2 -0 up and just knocking the ball around.

Jeff Green — who returned to play for the first time since Game 2 against Boston — explained how the timing of Irving’s injury is a tough pill to swallow. But, he added it’s time for the Nets to once again embody that “next man up” mentality.

“Of course. I hate to see anybody go down. Injuries suck,” said Jeff Green on Irving’s injury. “The timing was a little rough, but like I said before, it’s just next man up.”

So, the Nets will have to patch the loss by committee with Kevin Durant taking on a heavier scoring role and play the facilitator. Mike James — who was out of work six weeks ago after playing overseas in Russia — will have an even more increased role in Brooklyn’s deflated backcourt.

“He’s [Mike James] going to play, “ Nash said. “He’s played for us since James [Harden] went down, but everyone's got to play. All the complementary guys have to play and be aggressive and [be] confident. We’re going to need everyone to give it a great effort especially if Kai can’t play,”

James — who brings big-game experience and must-needed ball handling to the depleted backcourt — has averaged 7.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 21.5 minutes per game in the semifinal series ahead of his role increase in wake of Irving’s injury.

Although the 30-year-old guard can handle the ball with confidence, Brooklyn will need offensive boosts from Landry Shamet — who has struggled in the postseason — and Tyler Johnson — who has played only 19 minutes combined in the three games he played in the Bucks series — to adjust to playing without their superstar backcourt. And Joe Harris will have to find a way out of his slump.

“It was a big adjustment to play without him and James. But we’ve had that type of year. We have to figure it out,” Nash said.

Deadlines and commitments - Morning After edition .
Ya win some, you lose some. But with Kevin Durant on your side, you should always play the game. As the man said after Game 7: “The beauty of our profession is we get up and keep goingwe get ready for next year.” Now, the day after the disappointment, the Nets will begin to move forward and try for the best outcome next season. As we noted in our look ahead to the off-season, the Nets will have a lot of decisions to make. So here’s a helpfulNow, the day after the disappointment, the Nets will begin to move forward and try for the best outcome next season. As we noted in our look ahead to the off-season, the Nets will have a lot of decisions to make.

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