Kyrie Irving has been involved in plenty of off-the-court drama since signing with the Nets in 2019, but it’s safe to say he has also been one of the key reasons for the Nets’ current 12-3 run over their last 15 games. A run that began just after Irving had returned from his eight-game suspension.
It was Kevin Durant that led the charge in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Pistons with 43 points, but the duo of Durant and Irving combined for 81 points. It was a much closer game than it should have been between Detroit and Brooklyn, however, it extended the Nets’ winning streak to six and showed why Durant and Irving’s presence on the floor has been so critical.
Neither superstar has done it on his own completely as the Nets have shown the cohesion they so desperately lacked last year during this recent run. And that has helped mightily as Joe Harris has found a groove, TJ Warren has returned to the court to success and Nic Claxton has shown the needed chops as the team’s big man.
But, the Nets live and die with their superstars and this run has reinforced just how important and dominant they are. For instance, in the smaller sample size of 11 games, Durant has 32 points per game (second best in the NBA) and shooting 63.3% while Irving is averaging 27.4 points per game and shooting 50.5% from the field.
Combined the two are at 60.1 points per game during the 11-game span.
“When Kev’s out of the game and I’m in, we hold each other to the utmost accountability,” Irving said, according to Newsday, about the relationship between him and durant. “If he gets the lead back or he lets go of the lead, we look each other in the eyes like man, we’ve gotta be better or just continue this.”
Durant’s play has not dropped off one bit this season despite being 34 and playing at times without Irving. His play got lost early in the season as the Nets stumbled out of the gate.
That isn’t the case anymore and it’s garnering plenty of talk that Durant is playing the best basketball of his career.
“You know, the teams throw everything at (him). And so that’s a piece of it,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “I think it warrants that conversation. You look at the stat sheet and it’s a very efficient night. And so it’s an incredible task to do when the defense is geared at you every night. I love it that he’s doing it multiple ways.”
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Irving too has been can’t miss basketball. His game-winning three in Toronto on Friday was the type of signature play that the Nets had envisioned when he signed in 2019 to team up with his good friend.
The Nets schedule through their current stretch has aided them, but with the Golden State Warriors scheduled to be in Brooklyn on Wednesday, they will get one of their toughest tests in some time. And the dynamic 7/11 duo will once again be tasked to lead the Nets.