If the Nets have any hope of climbing out of this self-made hole and winning a title, they’ll need Kyrie Irving starring, not wrestling.
Irving came out of his funk in spectacular fashion on Tuesday night and jokingly credited the Post’s pre-game advice on driving more for helping him do just that.
After Irving stormed in for 42 points to spark an easy win over Houston, attacking the basket with fervor, he walked into the postgame press conference and before taking questions, The Post’s “Did I driven enough? I took your advice.”
When told it was effective, he joked, “I’ll see you coaching one day; maybe fifth grade, eighth grade.
Kidding aside, the Nets need to see more of that from Irving, with two more games on the schedule after Wednesday night’s tilt with the cross-river Knicks at the Garden.
Irving is arguably the best finisher of any small guard in NBA history. His ability to beat just about any defender from the dribble, to get to the cup almost at will, is a weapon that can unlock the Nets offense. If he uses it.
“I just thought he played well,” Steve Nash said. “I didn’t get too carried away with the shot numbers. I think it happens to everyone and they are going through a big change. Play home and away now. Play longer minutes, longer stretches with all injuries.
“So I think it’s understandable that he didn’t shoot [at] its normal clip for a few weeks there. But I’d bet on him every time it gets back to normal. It was great to see him feel in rhythm and have his legs under him [Tuesday] night.”
This adjustment came in spurts. In Brooklyn’s five games before the Rockets’ tilt, Irving averaged 21.4 points on 36.2% shooting — and just 35.2% on jumpers, who will always be subject to those ebbs and flows including Nash. talked.
“If I’m tapping into my efficiency and not shooting as many shots, it puts a little more pressure on our team,” Irving said. “Maybe I’ll take some of your advice and drive some more.”
In the Nets’ last five games entering Tuesday, Irving has averaged just 21.4 points on 36.2% shooting — including 35.2% on jumpers, which always come and go.
But Irving — who averaged 5.8 layup attempts per game last season and up to 6.8 on average in 2016-17 — hadn’t unleashed his biggest weapon in that mini slump. shoot.
Irving — who had averaged just 3.4 layup attempts per game this season, and 2.4 during that five-game skid — arrived at the tin for six on Tuesday. And sucked up defense, created open looks for teammates and improved the Nets.
And it also made Irving better, his dangerous All-Star who Kevin Durant will need by his side if the Nets are to win the title.
Irving shot 13 of 24 from the floor and 8 of 16 from 3-point range. He dished out six assists, and the offense looked like the offense they’ll want in the play-in — and need against one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference if they advance.
“Obviously you have two players – when you have Kryie and you have Kevin Durant – it puts a lot of pressure on you. And then they surrounded them with shots,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. their record, you throw it out the window. Obviously a lot of extenuating circumstances, their road record tells you how good they are.
New York Post