Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been big for the Nets since Kevin Durant has been out of the lineup with his sprained right MCL. In Sunday’s 120-116 win over the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Irving had 38 points and nine assists to lead the team back from a 17-point deficit.
Thanks to Irving’s heroic effort, Brooklyn is now 3-4 on the season with Durant. Irving did much of the ball-handling and shot creation in this game as Ben Simmons did not play down the stretch because of head coach Jacque Vaughn trying to limit how many non-shooters were on the floor for the Nets.
Since Golden State had trouble staying in front of Irving all night long, the Warriors started to put another man on Irving whenever he tried to make a move towards the rim. That kind of action led to a clutch three by Royce O’Neale with 28.5 seconds left that essentially served as the dagger. Irving spoke postgame about what led to the Nets’ impressive comeback win over the Warriors:
“We just wanted to make them feel uncomfortable all night, especially in that fourth quarter. We know they (the Warriors) get a lot of three attempts up, they do a lot of switching on the defensive end. So, want to make it tough, seek out different matchups, and come into this game with a sense of pride on the defensive end. We got to make it tough. Some nights, we’re gonna put points on the board very easily, guys are feeling good. And some nights, we’re gonna have to really rely on our poise, really rely on our defensive pressure. And, let that lead us to wins. So, it’s not gonna look pretty. I’ve been saying this since the beginning of the season, it’s not gonna look pretty some games. But, if we’re resilient and we take care of the defensive end, I feel like we give ourselves a chance every game.”