Nets vs. Bulls: Bringing Big 3 Back Together

With two games remaining the regular season, the Brooklyn Nets almost have the band back together. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden last played together in the same game on Feb. 13 at Golden State. Hamstring strains sidelined Durant and Harden, and then Irving was held out of Harden’s return on Wednesday after taking an elbow from Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic on Tuesday night.

“I think tomorrow will be the day,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash after Friday’s practice. “If everything stays the same, those three will play tomorrow.”

The Nets play Chicago at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and then close the regular season against Cleveland at p.m. on Sunday with both games at Barclays Center. It’s not guaranteed that the trio will all play on Sunday.

“I just expect them to play hard, play together, and experience some moments together on the floor,” said Nash. “It’s been few and far between. I don’t necessarily have any expectations other than it gives us an opportunity to jell and play together and feel what it’s like to be out there again.”

Durant, Irving, and Harden played seven games together between Jan. 20 and Feb. 13, winning five. The first loss was in their first game together in double-overtime at Cleveland. The second came against Toronto on Feb. 5 with Durant limited to 19 minutes to health and safety protocols, prevented from starting the game and then eventually having to leave the game in the third quarter.

The Nets have outscored opponents by 39 points in their 186 minutes together while posting an offensive rating of 122.4.

“I’m just happy they are on the floor,” said Jeff Green. “We’re getting to finally try to create a rhythm with all guys healthy. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. I’m happy that they are available to play tomorrow. We’ll see what happens from there. We have a long week to prepare for whomever we play. For those guys, it will be good. For us, it will be good to get a look and see where we are at when everybody is healthy.”


With Philadelphia's win over Orlando on Friday, the Sixers (48-23) have clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The No. 2 seed is still in play for the Nets (46-24) who hold a one-game lead over third-place Milwaukee (4525). The Bucks hold a tie-breaker over Brooklyn, so the Nets will have to maintain their one-game lead to hold on to the No. 2 seed. Milwaukee plays Miami at home on Saturday and visits the Bulls in Chicago on Sunday.

“We haven’t really talked about it,” said Jeff Green of the seeding situation. “Me personally, I’m just glad we are healthy. I’m not too concerned where we are at in the standings. For me, it’s about health. Regardless, there is going to be a tough road ahead to get where we want to be. I’m just glad we are healthy and all guys are able to play and all guys are able to play for the playoffs. That was my biggest concern so I’m just glad we are at that point where we can say we are healthy and we are ready.”

“I’d say typically we’re just worrying about us,” said Steve Nash. “As far as playoff prep, that is underway, but as far as watching the scoreboard — definitely gonna look forward to seeing the results, but I am not watching the scoreboard. I think we have to worry about ourselves. Like I said, everything is so new to this group and by far the priority is worrying about ourselves. But yeah, we have a plan, see who does what. We will know more tonight, we will know more tomorrow night and it will all be decided on Sunday.”


With two games remaining, Joe Harris is on the brink of leading the NBA in 3-point shooting for the second time in three seasons. Harris is shooting 47.5 percent (211-of-444) while Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis is second at 47.4 (73-of-154) and Marcus Morris Sr. of the LA Clippers is shooting 47.3 percent (139-of-294).

In 2018-19, Harris shot 47.4 percent to lead the league, and over the last three seasons combined his 45.8 3-point shooting percentage (566-of-1236) leads all NBA players. Harris is fourth in NBA history with a 43.77 3-point percentage. He has 801 3-pointers as a Net, 12 away from tying Jason Kidd (813) for the all-time franchise lead. Harris, who missed his first game of the season on Wednesday due to hip soreness, has been listed as out for Saturday's game as well..


Nic Claxton’s scoring trends haven’t necessarily run entirely in lockstep with James Harden’s availability, but it’s close. Until Tuesday night, Claxton’s last double-figure scoring game had been on March 31, Harden’s last full game before being sidelined with a hamstring strain. Claxton was out for a bit too due to COVID protocols before returning on May 4.

On Tuesday, Claxton put up his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Chicago. Then, with Harden back on the floor on Wednesday, Claxton scored a career-high 18 points while making 7-of-8 shots.

“I know how to set screens for him,” said Claxton of his connection with Harden. “We had a pretty long stretch where we were playing together, so I have a pretty good rhythm playing with him out there on the floor. It’s like riding a bike. I know the spots where he wants me to be, he wants me to run the floor hard, how he wants me to slip out of screens, so I think it’s a two-way street. We both make the game easier for each other and I’m glad he’s back.”


After sustaining a nasal fracture in Monday’s practice, Bruce Brown has played the last two games wearing a mask and kept on doing Bruce Brown things; consecutive double-doubles — 15 points, 10 rebounds against Chicago and 14 points, 11 rebounds against San Antonio — while making 12-of-20 shots over the two games.

"No difference at all,” said Brown. “Stay ready group was playing and me and James just collided. I got his cheekbone. He has some padding there so he can't see his bruise so I think I got the best of it."


The Bulls are 30-30 and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They were eliminated from contention for the play-in tournament with Washington's win on Friday night. The Bulls and Nets split their first two meetings, with the Nets winning 115-107 earlier this week on Tuesday night. Chicago is eighth in the NBA in field goal percentage (47.7) and fifth in assists (26.9). While the Bulls are 10th in free throw percentage (79.3), they’re last in both free throws attempted (17.5) and made per game (13.8). Chicago defends the 3-point line, ranking fourth in both opponent 3-pointers made (11.5) and attempted (32.2) and fifth in opponent 3-point percentage (35.6). While the Bulls are 11th in total rebounds per game (44.8), they are first in the league in defensive rebound percentage (76.7) and allow the fewest opponent offensive rebounds in the league (8.7) and the third-fewest second chance points (11.5). Chicago is 27th in blocks per game (4.2) and 28th in steals per game (6.7). Zach LaVine leads the Bulls with 27.4 points per game while shooting 50.7 percent overall and 41.9 percent from 3-point range. Midseason acquisition Nikola Vucevic is averaging 22.0 points and 11.6 rebounds while shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range in 25 games for the Bulls.