After missing 23 games, Kevin Durant is finally set to return to the court against the New Orleans Pelicans; however, in a win over the New York Knicks, James Harden exited the game after just four minutes of play with a hamstring injury that he struggled with and will now miss up to ten days to heal up.
Kyrie Irving has been in and out of the lineup due to personal days and minor injuries throughout the season.
All this has led to the Nets big three only playing 186 minutes together and only starting six games together. The team still sits tied for first place in the Eastern Conference and a record of 35-16.
This team is built to make a run for the NBA Finals, but these numbers are scary and could affect the team’s Finals hopes down the road.
In recent history, we have seen the possible negative outcomes of teams that haven’t fully meshed and how it can end in heartbreak. Last season the Los Angeles Clippers acquired Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but the two stars did not log a lot of minutes together, and in the playoffs, the team collapsed, giving up a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets.
The Miami Heat in the 2010-2011 season, led by the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, got upset in the NBA Finals by the Dallas Mavericks, a team led by Dirk Nowitzki that perfectly matched up against the Heat.
With just 21 games left, and Harden expected to miss upwards of five games, it does not look like the Nets big three will get a chance even to play at least 20 games together, which might make some fans nervous.
Even though it would be nice to see the Nets big three log some more minutes together in preparation for the playoffs, it is more important that they stay healthy and are ready for the playoff; the fact is that the Nets stars are a perfect fit together, and it might not take them that long to mesh.
We have already seen how the Harden, Irving backcourt looks, with them logging a total of 687 minutes together. When they are on the court together, they feed off each other’s strengths, as Irving plays off-ball, and Harden makes chances for other players. Now Durant is an even better off-ball player than Irving and is a walking bucket. Durant is known for his constancy and will immediately fit right into the team no matter what he is asked to do.
There are still two significant issues that need to be answered beyond the scheme fits, and that is how will the limited amount of shots be spread around between the big three and who will take the shots in crunch time.
- First off, Harden will most likely be the person to take fewer shots, as already seen in the few games that the big three have played together. This does not mean Harden will have less of an effect, but just a different effect as he will focus more on his creation for others.
- Second, with three of the best scores in the league, any one of them can take the last shot, and that might be more dangerous than just having one player be the closer.
All in all, in the NBA comradery, does matter, and it would be nice to see the Nets big three have more minutes on the court together.
However, because of the Nets style of play, it might not take them too long to get into the full swing of things, making health more of a barrier to the finals than the team’s camaraderie.
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