clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Without Kyrie Irving, Nets young core stepping up ahead of important game against the Celtics

New, comments

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving isn’t likely to play against his former team, the Boston Celtics, on Wednesday (he’s out) in Boston and on Friday when they come to the Barclays Center for a 12:00PM EST tip-off. And, while that may be a bummer, it also might...not be a bummer?

In shades of 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets, we’re seeing the emergence of good players playing great basketball on the heels of significant injuries.

Then, it was D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie after Caris LeVert went down. Now, it’s, well, those guys minus Russell plus Jarrett Allen with Irving hurt (and Caris...and KD).

Brooklyn is 5-1 without Irving. Not better without him, but still a good basketball team without him.

As a result, Allen is playing maybe his best basketball of his young career, averaging a double-double, 15.6 points and 12.6 rebounds, over his last six games.

Jarrett Allen is playing fantastic,” said Kenny Atkinson. “The rebounds are a pleasant surprise; but his overall game — even catching it in the half-roll and a couple nice passes. We just did a great job getting to the rim tonight.”

Dinwiddie has been the best player in the Eastern Conference.

After averaging 25.3 points and leading the Nets to four wins in five games, Spencer Dinwiddie is the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Dinwiddie averaged 25.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 33.3 minutes, starting in place of the injured Kyrie Irving.

The 6’6” point guard dropped 30 points in 35 minutes Sunday — his fifth straight game with 20+ points.

And Joe Harris has been...well...delicious. (Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!)

Just glancing at Joe Harris’ recent numbers alone, it’d be easy to assume that Brooklyn’s bearded wonder is in the midst of a serious slump. In his last 9 contests, the Nets’ long-range bomber is averaging 12.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, just 42.7 percent from the field and an extremely uncharacteristic 33.9 percent from three. Reminder: Joey led the league in three-point percentage with a I-still-can’t-believe-this-is-a-real-statistic 47.4.

All this for the “Next Year” Nets. The growth of these three players has been crucial; three players who the Nets absolutely need to continue to develop as they head into the KD-Kyrie-Caris season.

Add in the glue guys (Taurean Prince and Garrett Temple) and the young guys off the bench who are getting significant minutes (Dzanan Musa, Theo Pinson and Nic Claxton) and you have what they call “all the makings.”

Playing, and winning, without Kyrie Irving doesn’t mean the Nets are a better team without him. What it does mean is that his Nets are getting a chance to get better while he gets better.

Get your tickets to watch Nets vs. Celtics Live at home on Friday

The Nets and Celtics will be back at it on Friday at 12:00PM EST at the Barclays Center. You can get your tickets here. Kyrie Irving isn’t likely to play in this one, but with the Nets surging behind Spencer Dinwiddie, and as the Celtics are positioned as one of the top title contenders in the East, this should be a strong test for the Nets and one you don’t want to miss.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.