Nets shouldn't worry about Big Three's lack of shared playing time, says ex-NBA head coach

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Ian Begley
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kyrie Irving/James Harden/Kevin Durant Treated
Kyrie Irving/James Harden/Kevin Durant Treated

The Nets’ Big Three may play only 20 games together before the start of the playoffs.

Is that a problem?

“Normally, I’d say yes,” one former NBA head coach says. “But my eyes tell me it won’t be for (the Nets).

“Look at the way (James Harden) has played since he got (to Brooklyn); he’s been able to adjust to (Kyrie Irving) and vice-versa,” the coach added. “Kevin (Durant) should be able to fit right in. My biggest concern going into it was (Harden and Irving). Based on how they’ve played so far, I think (the Nets) will be fine.”

The coach, who requested anonymity due to his desire to work in the NBA again, based his analysis on the idea that Harden will be back at full health before the end of the regular season.

Steve Nash said on Monday night – before an MRI revealed a strain – that Harden’s injury didn’t seem like a ‘long-term’ thing.

“We’re going to err on the side of caution,” Nash said Monday, before the MRI revealed a strain.

The Nets say Harden will be re-evaluated in approximately nine days.

Given that timetable, the best-case scenario would have Harden returning on April 18 at Miami. (This assumes Harden won’t need time to regain his rhythm and conditioning before returning to the court.)

The most likely scenario is Harden, Durant and Irving sharing the court for the final 15 games – or fewer – of the regular season.

To date, Durant, Harden and Irving have only been on the floor together in seven games this season. Irving has missed time due to personal reasons and injury and Durant has missed time due to injury.

So the Nets’ Big Three have spent a total of 186 minutes on the court at the same time.

That’s a minute sample size, which is alarming when you consider that Durant and Irving hadn’t played together prior to this season.

But the ex-coach pointed to the way Durant, Irving and Harden played to back his assertion that the Nets will be just fine.

“Look at the numbers produced when they were on the court also, these guys will be motivated to make it all work, which is important,” the coach said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be smooth for (Nash and) the coaches. I just think they’ll be able to figure it out. I don’t think you’ll see another Clippers situation.”

The coach was referring to the Clippers’ lack of chemistry last season, which ended in an early playoff exit. Los Angeles’ star players (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) were in and out of the lineup throughout the regular.

As the ex-coach notes, the Nets have been dominant when Irving, Durant and Harden are on the floor together.

In the 186 minutes with Harden, Irving and Durant on the court together, the Nets have outscored opponents by 39 points. They’ve shot 53 percent from the field (41 percent from beyond the arc).

“They’ve been unreal,” the ex-coach says.

We should note that the coach’s prediction for Brooklyn is based on the idea that Durant will be fully healthy; the two-time NBA Finals MVP missed nearly two months with a hamstring ailment.

The Nets went 20-4 in Durant’s absence. This is another reason why the former head coach thinks Brooklyn will be able to navigate the Harden injury.

“They handled life without Kevin; I think they’ll be OK here,” the coach said.