The time has arrived.
For the first time since Feb. 13 against Golden State —when fans were still 10 days from being permitted at Barclays Center, Brooklyn’s “Big Three” of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving will be on the court together Saturday against the Bulls.
“Yes. I think tomorrow will be the day, so if everything stays the same, those three will play tomorrow,” Nash told reporters Friday.
It will be the eighth time Brooklyn’s “Big Three” — which boasts a 5-2 record when together — will be on the court as a unit this season and the first time fans can watch the trio at Barclays Center. Barclays opened up to fans on February 23, ten days after their last foray on the court.
When Steve Nash was asked about expectations for the trio in Saturday’s game, the bar isn’t set high.
“I expect them to play hard, play together and experience some moments together on the floor. It’s been few and far between. I don’t have any expectations just other than giving us an opportunity to tell, play together and feel what’s it like to be out there again.”
“If they can play together tomorrow, it’s positive. They got a chance to be out there together. It’s an experience and something we can put in the bank. The reality for our team is that everything is so new. We had so little time together and probably two of our better lineups haven’t played together,” Nash added. “We have to have the mindset that we have to improve forevermore throughout the season.”
The Nets with Durant, Harden and Irving together put up some big numbers, as Nets fan Chris Lavinio tweeted earlier this week.
The trio of Durant, Irving, Harden have only played 186 minutes together. In that span:— Christopher Lavinio (@ChrisLavinio) May 12, 2021
At the time of their last game together, Brooklyn was 16-12. Even without the three joining forces, they’ve gone 30-12.
The Nets Big 3 are back tomorrow.— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 14, 2021
Their record since the Harden trade:
— 5-2 with the Big 3
— 14-3 with Harden & Irving
— 6-5 with Durant & Irving
— 3-0 with Harden & Durant
— 5-5 with just Irving
— 4-2 with just Harden
— 2-0 with just Durant pic.twitter.com/NNkodYSECn
Jeff Green — the Nets valued veteran on and off the court — is simply happy that the three will be on the hardwood Saturday and is excited to finally forge a rhythm heading into the post-season.
“I’m just happy they are on the floor. We are finally trying to create a rhythm with all guys healthy. That’s something I’m looking forward to the most,” Green said. “I’m happy they are available to play tomorrow and see what happens from there.”
Irving, who sat out Wednesday’s win against the Spurs with a facial contusion, is cleared to play tomorrow and in fact, he was cleared to play against San Antonio but was held out for precautionary measures.
“Kyrie was cleared for the last game. He didn’t have any concussion symptoms,” Nash said. “The scan was negative so it was just a precautionary measure, so he’s cleared for tomorrow.”
Harden doesn’t have a clear minutes restriction for Saturday’s game Nash said. The Nets head coach will monitor his minutes throughout the contest and expects his former MVP to play more than 26 minutes — the number he played against the Spurs — but fewer than 40.
“I think we’ll monitor it and protect him. He should be able to play more than what he played last game,” said Nash on Harden’s minutes on Saturday. “It’s not like we want him to go out there and play 40 minutes. We have to find our sweet spot and how much he is needed and how much we can protect him.”
Joe Harris, who missed Wednesday’s game against San Antonio with left hip soreness, is listed as questionable for Saturday’s contest against the Bulls. Nash spoke about Harris’ injury during the Spurs pregame and said the injury occurred a few games ago and it’s not an injury that will cost him a lot of time.
“Joe got hit a few games ago and it’s kind of deteriorated a little bit,” said Nash Wednesday. “Nothing long term and nothing that will hold him out longer.”
Outside of Harris, Chris Chiozza (fractured third metacarpal, right hand) and Spencer Dinwiddie (partially torn ACL) are the only other two players listed on the status report and are ruled out.
The Nets have two games left in the regular season and the Eastern Conference standings are tight. Brooklyn (46-24) trail Philadelphia (47-23) by 1.0 games for the No. 1 seed while Milwaukee (45-25) are trailing the Nets by 2.0 games for the second seed. The 76ers and Bucks both hold the tie-breaker against the Nets.
The Bulls and the Cavaliers, the Nets Sunday opponent both have losing records. While Chicago currently has an outside chance of making the play-in tournament, Cleveland is looking forward to the Draft Lottery. Nash said he “likes” the second seed but that any decision to play the “Big Three” in Sunday’s contest will come down to the minutes count Saturday.
“We like second. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and we’ll see what happens tonight around the league,” said Nash on playing the Nets “Big Three” in Sunday night’s second leg of the back-to-back. “It’s not something that is do or die. It would be a nice thing to finish second and at the same time, we’ll see how this goes and how this plays and how to make the subsequent decisions based on what happens tonight or tomorrow and be prepared for Sunday.”
- Brooklyn Nets’ Big Three expected to play just eighth game together Saturday against Chicago Bulls - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- Nets’ Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden back together again - Ryan Dunleavy - New York Post
- Nets’ Big 3 expected to play together on Saturday - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Big 3 expected to play together on Saturday - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving set to play together again Saturday - Coby Green - SNY
- NETS VS. BULLS: BRINGING BIG 3 BACK TOGETHER - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets