The preseason is here and Steve Nash isn’t resting any of his healthy players. All in all, it’ll be a limited run for his three stars with the hope that everyone comes out healthy and the carryover from training camp follows.
The Nets’ head coach will start Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, and Nic Claxton in their preseason opener. Although Nash is putting out the favorable starting five to start the regular season, the minute load for the stars will be low —“Somewhere in the 15 to 20-minute range,” Nash said.
The challenge for Nash will be providing the Nets' Big 3 — Simmons, Irving, and Durant — with enough opportunities to begin building cohesion in the limited showing without overburdening them. In his mind, he wants to take advantage of the trios time on the court but making sure all three come out healthy in the unofficial contest.
“You know, it’s great to take advantage of the opportunity for those guys to play together and keep developing the understanding between them; but you definitely also don’t want to overdo it. You know, the goal here is for everyone to land safely on opening night, and if they’re able to get a bunch of minutes in together, that’s a bonus,” Nash stated. “So we’ll try and find a sweet spot there where they do get those reps together. But at the same time, we’re not over-examined at least the group before it’s opening night.”
Even though it's a preseason contest that is under Brooklyn’s roof and a contest that will not feature Philadelphia’s stars, it could be a good thing for Simmons to put the matchup against his former team behind him. In Nash’s eyes, he doesn’t know if it still affects Simmons heading into the contest.
“Why not? That’s probably a question for Ben, but some guys love it, and some guys could care less. I think we’re all affected differently by that,” Nash said. “Maybe it could be a positive thing to get one out of the way and then just play.
When Sixers head coach, Doc Rivers was asked to reflect on coaching Simmons, he quickly responded, “I don’t right now. I am more focused on us.”
Unlike Brooklyn, Doc Rivers is not risking playing his stars and key role players Monday night as James Harden, Joel Embiid, PJ Tucker, and Danuel House are all out for the Sixers.
The expectations for the players are light for Nash and the coaching staff in the preseason opener. The Nets head coach simply wants to see the transfer of training camp and a complete effort on both ends of the floor.
“I just want to see them execute the things we worked on in the week, start building both ends of the floor,” said Nash on his expectations for the preseason opener. “Preseason is a little bit more important for us than a lot of clubs because we haven’t played together. A lot of guys on our team are either new or haven’t played due to injury last year. So it’s a good opportunity for us to keep practicing and rehearse all the things we’ve worked on and get prepared for opening night.”
With all things considered, the Nets have instilled a new offense in training camp — an offense that can carry similarities but also an offense the Nets head coach sees as different. Brooklyn was never able to show their offense at full strength last season due to key injuries occurring sporadically throughout the regular season but Nash has added deeper layers. Overall, we’ll be able to see glimpses of that new offense tonight.
“Yeah, we have,” Nash said. “I think last year was such a challenge for us with the different teams — you know, (with) James, without James, no Joe, obviously Kevin got hurt, Kyrie not getting the vaccine. It’s very difficult to run the same stuff throughout the year, and so there were different parts of our season that provoked kind of different stuff. And so we never really got a lot of continuity or go to deeper layers of our offensive understanding. So I think that’s been positive to kind of wipe the slate clean and do some new things, new concepts and to start putting down the first co-things, so to speak.