Magic Johnson: Nets Team To Beat In East

All it took was for the Nets to dismantle the 76ers in Philadelphia for NBA legend Magic Johnson to become a Brooklyn believer.Magic Johnson

“Tonight the Nets proved that they are the team to beat in the East with their blowout victory over the Sixers!” Johnson tweeted following the Nets’ 129-100 hammer job of a victory.

Of course, Magic isn’t alone in those thoughts. This despite the fact the Nets (34-33) enter Friday in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. But as long as Kevin Durant is healthy, you do indeed have to like the Nets’ odds.

It doesn’t hurt in the games that Kyrie Irving is eligible. So far, that means only road games (with the exception of the Knicks). Because of Irving’s vaccine status, he is currently only eligible for four more regular-season games.

That said, Ben Simmons is expected to be ready to make his season debut as soon as next week, following the trade from the 76ers as part of the trade for James Harden. But the Nets landed more than just Simmons in the deal. They also picked up Andre Drummond and Seth Curry, two productive veterans who offer nice depth around the Big Three of Durant, Irving and Simmons (when all are eligible).

With the Irving still ineligible to play in home games, the Nets would probably be fine with the No. 8 seed. That way they guarantee themselves more games with Irving than without in every series. 

Think they’d rather have a Game 7 at home minus Irving, or a Game 7 on the road with him? The smart money is on the latter.

Either way, the defending champion Bucks and yes, even the 76ers of Harden and Joel Embiid will have plenty to say about Magic’s prediction. The Nets could indeed become the favorites and emerge from the East., But they’re not there yet.

Sam Amico is senior NBA writer at Hoops Wire. Follow @AmicoHoops.

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