Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
The Knicks share the city with the Brooklyn Nets Big 3, but have yet to share the floor in the previous two meetings, both losses to the Knicks.
That is, until possibly Monday night at the Barclays Center when the Nets threaten to be all healthy and ready to face the Knicks as a trio. There is hardly any guarantee, but at least the possibility exists.
Following the Knicks’ 44-point victory in Detroit on Saturday, Reggie Bullock and Julius Randle took the Zoom stage together after combining for 49 points.
Randle and Bullock delivered a direct message directed across the Brooklyn Bridge when asked about the possibility of finally facing the Nets’ Big 3 on Monday.
“We have a Big 5,” said Bullock.
“A Big 15,” Randle pointed out quickly.
“A Big 15,” Bullock continued. “We have a pretty good team. We are not really worried about his Big 3. We know what kind of basketball we will be able to play. We focus on our team and the game plan drawn up by the coach. That’s all we’re focused on: the Knicks. “
Even with the Nets’ personal days and injuries, they are still hot as fire, leading the Eastern Conference 34-15 in Sunday’s Bulls game.
This is the season the Nets are in for a championship, including recently adding former All-Stars Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Knicks? They signed a third-string center, Norvel Pelle, who already made an impact on his image as a worker in his debut. He continued to play with a dislocated right index finger to make a free throw and block two shots in the final two minutes on Saturday.
Those are the 2020-21 Knicks: they lack stars but they don’t have a warrior spirit. At least they have that advantage over the Hollywood Nets of KD, Harden and Kyrie.
“We are concerned about ourselves,” said Randle, named All-Star for the first time this season. “We have a whole team of guys. We try to play the right way, we play hard. We play with energy. We think we do that, we have a chance to win against anyone. It’s not about them and who they have or don’t have. It’s about us and competing at a high level every night. “
The Knicks have endured a variety of injuries on the roster, primarily to starting center Mitchell Robinson, because he has depth.
In fact, the big 15.
“It should be the mentality of all teams,” said Bullock. “There are 15 players on the list. With our team we have our leader, the coach. We know how great we can be. That was our goal at the beginning of the year to compete against everyone and have fun doing it. ”
Another key to the Knicks’ 25-25 record is that their top two players, Randle and RJ Barrett, have been iron horses.
Randle has missed a game. Barrett has played in his 50s. Each has moved on through recent injuries: Randle with a bruised thigh and Barrett with a sprained ankle. That’s not the culture of the Nets.
Across the East River, Durant has played just 19 games this season due to a hamstring strain that followed his sabbatical from Achilles surgery last season. Irving has used many personal days and Harden recently hit the hamstring injury list.
If Durant adapts on Monday, that would mean that in his two seasons with the Nets, he would have played 20 of a possible 127 games (including the bubble playoffs).
By contrast, in his two seasons with the Knicks, Randle has played 112 out of 115 possible games. But who counts in this new NBA?
Rookie coach Steve Nash’s culture is about being durable for the playoffs. Perhaps Tom Thibodeau’s culture of durability and chemistry developed during the regular season will toughen them up for the postseason.
Bullock and Randle have been part of a starting five that has held steady for 42 games, whether the starting center was Robinson or Nerlens Noel.
“We know how talented they are,” Thibodeau said. “We will have to be prepared. Even if one is out, they still have a ton of talent and have added more talent to their team. But we know that if we defend and keep our turnovers low, we are more than capable. “