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Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving open up Nets pick-and-roll usage

Virtually nothing has gone in response to plan since Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving got here to Brooklyn.

But from the beginning of this experiment, the Nets hoped two of the best offensive performers within the NBA may join their video games to kind a duo that’s troublesome to cease.

When the sport hung within the stability Wednesday, the Nets gave a peek at how potent the pair could be when they’re concurrently remoted and dealing collectively.

In the closing minutes of an eventual 122-116 win over the Hornets at Barclays Center, the Nets’ offense reworked right into a two-man recreation that includes Durant and Irving. Repeatedly, the Nets, who have been with out Ben Simmons, turned to a beforehand seldom-used pick-and-roll that Charlotte struggled to manage.

The Nets, who had watched a 23-point lead whittle all the way down to only one within the fourth quarter, leaned upon their two offensive forces and rolled to the win.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) drives up court in the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Brooklyn, NY.
Kevin Durant teamted up with Kyrie Irving to kind an unstoppable pick-and-roll tandem to assist seal the Nets’ win.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST Photo

“Getting those two to play together in pick-and-rolls can be lethal for us,” head coach Jacque Vaughn stated after the Nets received their fifth of six on this seven-game homestand. “You don’t see it all the time. It was great for them to kind of produce and see how they can execute at the end of the game together.”

Maybe the Nets referred to as upon the play due to the appears they noticed from Charlotte’s protection. Or perhaps the wrinkle will turn into a bigger a part of their offense.

“We definitely should get to it a lot more,” stated Irving, whose subsequent likelihood to run the play might be Friday at Barclays Center towards the Hawks. “We’ll see as we continue on, but it’s definitely a high-efficiency play.”

The Nets’ offensive fashion doesn’t lend itself to many two-man video games. They set quite a lot of off-ball screens and rely closely on cutters. When these units don’t generate pictures, they’ll let Durant or Irving create on his personal.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives to the basket in the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Brooklyn, NY.
Kyrie Irving’s versatility helped change up the Nets’ method.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST Photo

The Nets are among the many leaders in one-on-one isolations, however they’ve run pick-and-rolls the least within the NBA, simply 11.2 p.c of the time. When the Nets do run the play, Nic Claxton is way extra usually the picker-and-roller.

But with four-and-a-half minutes left in a recreation they have been main by 4, the Irving and Durant present was screened.

The Hornets have been double-teaming Durant, so he dealt with the ball close to half-court as Irving set up for a decide. When Irving’s man caught with Durant, Durant handed over the double-team and located a rolling Irving, who knocked down a jumper.

“He’s a versatile player,” Durant stated of Irving, who is a good finisher beneath the basket. “[It] allows us to play different ways in that pick-and-roll. I think we can both operate the same areas on the court, midrange, at the rim, 3-point line, off the dribble.”

The subsequent possession, Irving was the ball-handler, and after the middle-of-the-court display screen, Durant was freed up as a result of Charlotte’s Jalen McDaniels briefly caught with Irving. McDaniels scrambled again to Durant, who then created sufficient space to sink a protracted jumper. If Durant have been lined, he had Seth Curry and Joe Harris — in a small, sweet-shooting lineup — within the corners.

The subsequent possession was executed equally, however Durant stayed behind the 3-point line after setting the display screen, then caught, shot and swished a triple. About 30 seconds later, the Hornets’ protection swarmed to Durant after one other pick-and-roll with Irving, which created a wide-open 3 for Royce O’Neale (who missed).

“Me and him coming off screen-and-rolls with each other, being aggressive and making plays, it’s one of the good plays for our team,” stated Irving, who scored 33 and appears again in stride 10 video games after coming back from his suspension.

The Nets would have far most well-liked to see Durant, who has been overworked, and Irving watch from the bench for the fourth quarter in a recreation that appeared like a laugher for the primary 24 minutes.

But as a result of they allowed the Hornets again within the recreation, they have been compelled to play their finest gamers — and maybe faucet right into a set that provides these finest gamers an opportunity to excel collectively.

“We have to utilize it, but it’s got to be a balance,” stated Durant, whose Nets didn’t apply Thursday. “We can’t run it the whole game, but we got to figure out when’s the right time to use it.”

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