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The 2022 NBA Finals will be contested between the teams that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving left in the summer of 2019.
The 2022 NBA Finals is now set after Sunday night. The Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 100-96 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. Their opponents will be the Golden State Warriors, who reached the Finals for the first time since 2019 after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in five games.
With the Finals set and Game 1 taking place on Thursday, June 2, it cannot be glossed over that the two teams that are competing are the very organizations that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving left in the summer of 2019.
2022 NBA Finals will be between former teams of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving
The summer of 2019 was a huge one for the NBA, as the free agency class was stacked. The headliners of it were Durant and Irving. Durant spent the previous three years with the Warriors, where he won two NBA Championships. As for Irving, he had a tumultuous two-year tenure with Boston.
Durant and Irving decided that they would team up together to increase their odds of contending for NBA Championships. As for their team, they decided to sign deals with the Brooklyn Nets.
Their first official season was not together as a duo, due to Durant missing the entire season due to recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Their true contending window opened up as soon as Durant returned for the 2020-21 season.
The Nets made moves to solidify their push for the 2021 Finals, as they brought in James Harden via trade to build a super team. While they did defeat the Celtics in five games in the opening round, they were eliminated in seven games to the eventual NBA Champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.
This past season saw an even earlier end to their season. The team dealt with Irving missing home games for the majority of the campaign to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, due to being unvaccinated. Not only that, but they traded Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers. Once the playoffs arrived, the Nets were the first team eliminated, as they were swept by Boston.
It took a while, but the Celtics are in the NBA Finals. As for the Warriors, they missed the playoffs in the previous two years, as they dealt with injuries to their star players. Now, in their first year back at full health, they have reached the Finals for the sixth time in the past eight seasons.
In hindsight, leaving their respective teams in 2019 did not pay off for Durant and Irving. But, we shall see what happens with the duo this offseason to see if they get any closer to contending for a Larry O’Brien Trophy.