1. The Nets have some issues
When healthy, the Nets look like they’re going to be an absolute machine that takes over the title of the top contender in the Eastern Conference. However, given all of the issues that this roster very clearly has, the Raptors shouldn’t be so scared of their daunting rivals, irrespective of Durant’s status.
Irving, who can’t play in Toronto and has often struggled with availability and staying harmonious with the front office, remains the team’s co-star. Ben Simmons is a tremendous talent, but will he be the same after sitting out for the entire 2021-22 season? The lack of a rim protector could come back to bite Brooklyn as well.
The Toronto Raptors shouldn’t be too fearful of the Nets.
The Nets will be one of the best offensive teams in the league, but contenders like the Celtics have proven that they are a beatable defensive team thanks to their decision to let high-effort stoppers like Bruce Brown leave to add more shooters. Even the Raptors could give them problems.
The Raptors need to be worried about the Nets, but they shouldn’t waive a white flag and assume that Durant’s return signals the end of their division championship pursuit. Just a few wins away from earning the No. 2 seed last year despite numerous injuries, Toronto’s cohesion could overcome Brooklyn’s talent.