It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype when the hype surpasses…the hype.
“KD and Kyrie Irving look gooder than a mug,” said Shaq on TNT after seeing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant play together in just one half of basketball.
While grammatically incorrect, Shaq’s analysis was spot on.
Irving scored 24 first-half points on 9-of-13 shooting, while Durant poured in 12 points of his own in the first 24 minutes. The duo scored 36 of the Nets’ 63 first-half points, combining to go 14-for-24 from the field.
Irving finished with 26 and Durant had 22 as the Brooklyn Nets (1-0) ran the Golden State Warriors (0-1) out the gym, 125-99. At one point the Nets led by as many as 38 points.
For the first game of the season, the NBA made sure that they had an abundance of star power and storylines in the tipoff to what will be the weirdest full season in league history. The combination of Irving, Durant, Steve Nash, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and James Wiseman all in the same building is more than enough to draw in the casual NBA fan.
In Irving, you have the biggest enigma in the league. But for all the off-the-court headlines he’s at the center of and numerous head-scratching comments he’s made, that dude is still one of the best 10-15 basketball players on Earth.
We hadn’t seen Durant play in 561 days in a game that counted before Tuesday, and he didn’t disappoint. Achilles injuries are the hardest to overcome for basketball players in terms of them returning to their previous form, but Durant looked like he hadn’t missed a day.
Tuesday was also Steve Nash’s first regular-season game as head coach, and first win in that role. And while we won’t know if Nash is the man for the job in Brooklyn for the foreseeable future, he got off to the best start a rookie coach could imagine.
“Steve has a lot of basketball experience, and I think that bodes well for our team. Our whole coaching staff has been in the league for decades, and they’re guys that played in the league and coached in the league for a long time,” said Durant.
“Just walking the sidelines, [Nash’ll] get used to that over time. But, he’s done a great job so far.”
On the Golden State side, you had the return of Steph Curry — a media darling for the league — from a hand injury that limited him to only five games last season. Draymond Green was in street clothes as he’s not back from a foot injury, or after testing positive for COVID-19, depending on which report you believe. And in Wiseman, fans got to see the No. 2 overall pick that was limited to only three games in college due to NCAA violations. Before the game, Charles Barkley predicted that the rookie would score 17 points and grab 12 rebounds. He finished with 19 and 6.
But as loaded as the Nets’ starting lineup is, their reserves showed why Brooklyn is a legit title contender even after only one game.
“They might have the best bench in the NBA,” Kenny Smith said at halftime.
Nash used all 15 of his players that dressed in the opener, as five of them played at least 16 minutes. The Nets bench scored 54 points and grabbed 25 rebounds.
All wasn’t lost for the Warriors, however, as there was one highlight from new addition Kelly Oubre Jr.
But besides that, the Warriors got washed.