- Staff Writer
- Joined ESPN in 2018
- Appears regularly on ESPN Chicago 1000
NEW YORK — The Nets’ Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are expected to play in just their eighth game together on Saturday against the Chicago Bulls. It will be the first game action they have seen together since Feb. 13 against the Golden State Warriors.
“If everything stays the same,” coach Steve Nash said after Friday afternoon’s practice, “those three will play tomorrow.”
The Nets are looking to lock up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference this weekend. They play the Bulls on Saturday and end the season against the Cavaliers on Sunday.
A slew of injuries has kept Durant, Harden and Irving from being on the floor together. Durant strained his hamstring in the game against Golden State and missed over a month. Then, as Durant was nearing a return in early April, Harden strained his hamstring and missed over five weeks.
Some combination of the Nets’ Big Three has played in 46 games for the Nets this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Just Harden and Irving have played in 19 games together. Durant and Irving have played in 17 games. Harden and Durant have played in just three games as a pair — including Wednesday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs, which was Harden’s first game since April 5.
Nash said the hope is that even one more game on the court will allow his leading scorers to build a bit more chemistry heading into the postseason.
“It’s been few and far between,” Nash said. “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.”
The Nets’ roster has also changed since Durant, Irving and Harden last played together in February. The Nets added Blake Griffin — who has become a key player off the bench for Brooklyn and has yet to be on the floor with all three players. Nash did not commit to all three players being available for both ends of the Nets’ back-to-back this weekend.
“I’m just happy they are on the floor,” forward Jeff Green said. “We’re getting to finally try to create a rhythm with all guys healthy. 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.”
In order for the Nets to secure the No. 2 seed, they would need to win both games. If they go 1-1, the Milwaukee Bucks — who trail the Nets by one game but own the series tiebreaker — would have to lose at least one game. If the Philadelphia 76ers lose both of their remaining games, which is unlikely, the Nets have a chance at owning the No. 1 seed.
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