The main storyline leading up to the Nets’ visit to San Francisco on Saturday was Kevin Durant’s return to the Bay Area, where he won championships with the Warriors. The reunion went as planned: there was a lot of love for KD and Brooklyn won comfortably, 134-117.
But then came the post-game interviews, where another Nets star said something that pushed Durant’s story to the side.
The statement became one of the top three takeaways from the prime-time ABC game.
Twist plot: Brooklyn has a new backcourt look
Kyrie Irving casually dropped that the Nets’ offense has undergone a big change: He’s now playing the ball and James Harden is the primary ball manager. The change worked very well against Golden State: Harden had 19 points and 16 assists in 35 minutes, while Irving had 23 points and four assists in 34 minutes.
“I think he just did a great job just managing the leadership role,” Irving said. “We established that, maybe four days ago now? I just looked at it and I said, ‘You’re the point guard, and I’m going to play marksman,’ and it was as easy as that.
“He took control of the responsibilities and did an amazing job. It just makes my job easier, just go out and play for free and play games. It’s a luxury.”
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“Four days ago” from Saturday would have taken place at some point during the Nets’ midweek against the Pistons and Pacers. Harden collected 12 dimes against Detroit on Tuesday, but only five the following night against Indiana.
Irving said something else that made the change seem like a personal quest.
“It’s easy to play against someone who is ready to complete your game and [is] ready to sacrifice himself, and it’s easy for me to do it, “he said.” I think I was waiting for this opportunity to show that playing with other great players, not just [Team] USA, not just All-Star Games or something, but able to fit into a high level group, not just to score or not just to pass or whatever, just keep going. to do the little things, the details to win. ”
The change of role is not shocking; Irving and Harden can be good at both. It’s more than Irving announced to the world like he did. One wonders if Nets coach Steve Nash at least had a heads-up after the change. If he didn’t, he surely understood it once he saw the tandem operating in the field.
KD comes back like. . . a center?
The official NBA score was 6-4 Bruce Brown as the Nets’ starting center, but Durant was announced on social media as the five in place of absent DeAndre Jordan (staff). The 7-0 Durant didn’t change his game for the Smallball Warriors, who started Draymond Green in the middle, so the change was mostly semantic.
More importantly, Durant came back in the mainstream after missing a week in the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. He wasn’t great off the floor (8 for 19 overall, 1 for 6 of 3), but he was one of six double-digit Nets to score 20 points in 33 minutes.
“It’s good to be back on the court. It’s good to be back to do something that I love to do every day. It’s good to have a great victory on this road trip, ” Durant said.
The warriors couldn’t stick to the plan
Golden State was down just three after the first two minutes of the second quarter; That’s when Brooklyn started a 12-4 run to lead in double digits. The Nets were leading 66-51 at the break.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr had a grim view of how his team had handled one of the best teams in the NBA.
“We didn’t play a very careful game,” he said. “You have to go into a game like this knowing that you are an underdog and knowing that you have to follow a game plan and that you have to have a plan. [for] how to beat them, and it just felt like we were out there circling without much plan. “
Green was more inclined to compliment Durant and Co.
“The game plan was to help each other out, and you know their staff are such that it’s hard to do that,” Green said. by NBC Sports Bay Area. “We didn’t execute the game plan well. But in saying that, that’s part of the reason why we didn’t. I mean you have to give them a lot of credit for why we don’t. did not. “