Kevin Durant believes his knee injury near the midway point of the NBA season "derailed" the Brooklyn Nets' campaign.
The Nets are sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference, occupying the last of the Play-In Tournament spots.
Durant did not play a game between January 17 and March 3 as a result of his injury, with the Nets going 3-10 in February.
If the season were to end now, the Nets would need to win on the road against the Charlotte Hornets, and then triumph again on their travels against the winner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks' matchup in their clash for the seventh seed.
Brooklyn have a winning percentage of .513 (40-38) for the season, but that jumps to .627 in games Durant has played (32-19), and plummets to .296 (8-19) when he has been absent.
Tough result, but KD gave it his all. pic.twitter.com/GyuvlWHqNo— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 3, 2022
"So I'm not looking at it like we're just not a good basketball team. There wasn't a lot of continuity with me and Kyrie [Irving] out of the line-up, that's just what it is.
"When we're all on the floor together, I like what we got."
Reflecting on what has been a hectic season off the court, the two-time Finals MVP made it clear what it takes to be in the upper echelon of such a competitive league.
"You can talk about expectations and what you see this team on paper – I always said this, but everyday matters," he said.
"You want to be a champion every second that you step on the floor, not just when we play a good team or the playoffs coming up.
"I think being a champion is in the habits and the work ethic, the care that you have for the game. [There's] a lot of champions out here that never won a ring, but they approach their work that way.
"So that's how I felt our team needed to approach this season – and guys have – but some stuff that's out of individuals' control is the reason why we're in certain positions.
"That doesn't stop you from having the championship mentality every day as an individual."
Durant was emphatic when asked if he spends time thinking about all the different scenarios the Nets could be faced with due to playoff seeding.
"Who cares?" he asked reporters.
"Whoever we play, we play. I don't care who we play. I don't care that we're in the play-in.
"Just tip the ball up, see what happens. That's all you can control.
"It's too stressful thinking about trying to dodge a team, just play the game. We'll see what happens."
Despite Durant's knee injury, he has still played in 51 games, while Irving has played in just 25 as New York previously had a mandate preventing players unvaccinated against COVID-19 featuring in matches in the city.