If anyone can understand the impact that injuries can have on a team throughout the season, it’s the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets.
And if there’s one player the Nets cannot afford to lose in the upcoming playoffs, it’s Andrei Kirilenko.
There’s no doubt Brooklyn doesn’t want to be without the likes of Deron Williams or Paul Pierce once the postseason gets underway, but what Kirilenko brings to the Nets when in the lineup is nearly invaluable, as his overall defensive impact on the entire unit is truly remarkable.
Make no mistake about it, when healthy, Williams and Pierce are game changers, but mostly on the offensive end. Scoring definitely doesn’t come any easier in the playoffs, but it’s the teams who play the best defense that usually go the furthest.
Enter Kirilenko, who completely changed the way the Nets approached playing defense beginning back in January. By no coincidence, Brooklyn has endured tremendous success since that point. For whatever reason, Kirilenko’s defensive intensity visibly rubs off on his teammates when in the lineup. His presence leads to much crisper rotations and overall helping.
The impact of such efficiency on defense cannot be overlooked even one bit. It’s also the last thing a team would want to lose in a playoff series, no matter who the opponent may be. While the Nets would have a chance at advancing without an offensive weapon — possibly two — the same cannot be said if their defense isn’t at its very best.
And that isn’t possible without the services of Kirilenko.