Can talent trump experience? We’re about to find out

Illustration for article titled Can talent trump experience? We’re about to find out
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After being sidelined for more than a month, James Harden returned to the Nets lineup on Wednesday night as he came off the bench to score 18 points, dish out 11 assists, and grab 7 rebounds in a 128-116 victory over the Spurs.

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Nets fans were happy to have The Beard back, but the team was still missing a member of their Big 3 as Kyrie Irving was out due to a facial contusion he got from an unintentional elbow from Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic on Tuesday night. With Brooklyn’s regular-season finale on Sunday, there’s a chance the Nets could enter the postseason with the combination of Durant, Harden, and Irving only having seven games under their belts. And while the trio has played together in pairs on NBA teams (Oklahoma City) or in international competition (Team USA), we’re about to find out if the league’s most explosive offensive trinity can make it to the NBA Finals with only a handful of games of experience.

Here’s a look at the seven games they’ve managed to play together.

January 20: Nets at Cavs — Brooklyn loses 147-135

Cleveland’s Collin Sexton stole the show and led all scorers with 42 points after scoring 18 straight at one point during the overtime period, and 15 during the final five-minute session. The Big 3 combined for 96 points, 23 assists, and 24 rebounds.

January 23: Heat at Nets — Brooklyn wins 128-124

Despite a 41-point performance from Bam Adebayo, the Nets were able to score their first win with The Big 3. They combined for 71 points, 22 assists, and 17 rebounds.

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January 25: Heat at Nets — Brooklyn wins 98-85

Due to the weird scheduling this season that mirrors the MLB, Miami and Brooklyn ran it back two days later as the Nets were able to win again, despite another big game from Adebayo in which he led Miami in points (26), rebounds (10), and assists (5). The Big 3 accounted for 56 points, 17 assists, and 25 rebounds.

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January 27: Nets at Hawks — Brooklyn wins 132-128

Despite a game in which Atlanta had six players in double figures, they weren’t able to pull off the win at home. Durant went for 32 points, Harden had 31 points, 15 assists, and 8 rebounds, and Irving finished with 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field.

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February 2: Clippers at Nets — Brooklyn wins 124-120

In their biggest matchup of the season, the Nets were able to hang on despite 33 from Kawhi Leonard and 26 from Paul George. The Big 3 had a huge game for Brooklyn as they totaled 90 points, 16 assists, and 26 rebounds.

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February 5: Raptors at Nets — Brooklyn loses 123-117

This was the game where things got weird. After being benched for the first time in 867 career games due to health and safety protocols, Durant was cleared and entered the game late in the first quarter. However, in the second quarter, he was pulled from the bench…because of health and safety protocols. Durant only scored 8 points. Irving had 15 and Harden finished with 17 and 12 assists.

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February 13: Nets at Warriors — Brooklyn wins 134-117

It was a blowout from the beginning, as Brooklyn waxed Golden State in a game in which they led by 28 at one point. Harden led the way with 19 points, 16 assists, and 8 rebounds. Irving finished with 23 points and Durant put up 20 against his old teammates. The good thing for the Nets is that they sport a 5-2 record when they’re at full strength with their superstars. If the playoffs started today, the No. 2 seed Nets would face the Hornets or the Celtics in the first round, depending on how the play-in tournament goes. Brooklyn’s Big 3 hasn’t faced either of those teams this season.

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And if they win that series — as expected — there’s a possibility that they could face the Knicks in the second round if they upset the Milwaukee Bucks. But, who are we kidding? That’s never going to happen.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 & 2020 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.