As the Brooklyn Nets ‘big three’ of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving continue to work to build their on-court chemistry, Irving and Harden had a brief conversation at practice this week to clarify their roles.
“We set it up four days ago,” Irving said after the Nets’ 134-117 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. “I just looked at him and said, ‘You’re the point guard and I’m going to play shooting guard.’ That was as simple as that. “
Irving described the conversation as concise and practical.
“It’s not a mystical conversation that we had,” Irving said.
In Saturday’s game against the Warriors, Harden had 16 assists, raising his average to 11.3 assists per game since joining the Nets in mid-January. It’s the most assists he has given out since the 2016-17 season, when he led the league with 11.2 assists per game for the Houston Rockets.
“He’s been taking control of the responsibilities and doing an incredible job,” Irving said. “It just makes my job easier to go out and play for free and just make plays.”
When Harden, a multi-time scoring champion, was added to the Nets mix, an overriding question was: will one basketball be enough?
Harden had spoken with head coach Steve Nash about his willingness to play whatever role needed upon his arrival from Houston.
On Saturday against the Warriors, Harden, Irving and Durant scored or assisted in 100 points for Brooklyn. Saturday marked the seventh game the trio played together, including last week’s showdown with the Toronto Raptors, during which Durant was thrown off the court early due to the league’s coronavirus protocols.
Their record together is 5-2, including a loss to the Raptors that Durant was unable to finish.
“I came to this team knowing that they have two special scorers on this team,” Harden said. “Obviously, I score when I need to, but as long as I get everyone involved and Ky (Irving) gets the shots he wants, KD will make the shots he wants, he’s pretty efficient. Offensively he’s not the one. He’s a problem for us, we can score in groups; It’s on the defensive. We seem to be picking up pace lately. We just have to keep it up. “