While waiting for Irving, the Nets are still looking for answers

NEW YORK (AP) – Instead of taking a big hit, James Harden wants to deliver one – straight to Kyrie Irving’s arm.

If Irving gets the coronavirus shot, the Brooklyn Nets become an almost unstoppable attack with three of the NBA’s most dynamic scorers.

If he continues to refuse, the Nets may well continue to be a losing team as often as they win at home, where Irving is not eligible to play due to New York City’s vaccination mandate for the. professional athletes playing in public places.

After the Nets looked as good as ever in a 138-112 Chicago rout on Wednesday with Irving in the lineup, Harden was ready to take matters into his own hands to ensure his fellow All-Star goaltender could stay.

“I’m going to give it the shot,” Harden said with a smile.

One night later, Irving was away from the team again, Kevin Durant had a night’s rest and the Nets were routed 130-109 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, falling to 11-11 at home.

On the first anniversary of the successful trade that brought Harden to Brooklyn to set up an explosive Big Three, the Nets still don’t know when they’ll be able to deliver on their promise more than half the time.

“I hope that later in the season, or maybe after the All-Star break – well, I hope sooner than that, but I’m talking right after the All-Star break – I hope we can have our full roster and take a real pace in how far we know what we have in this locker room, ”said Harden.

Irving has played three games since the Nets decided to bring him back to play in every road game that doesn’t have a vaccine warrant. They won two, losing on Monday when Harden sat down in Portland on the second night of a straight cross country game.

They rebounded with the game against the East Bulls, with Harden later saying the Nets should “make sure Ky can play in the home games.”

But coach Steve Nash said Thursday he had received no indication from Irving or New York that there was more reason to be optimistic about his role at Barclays Center.

“I didn’t hear anything at all,” Nash said. “So for me, it’s just that he’ll play on the road.”

This will help the Nets in the short term. As of Monday, they start a streak with 11 of 14 road games – although Irving is not eligible to play at Golden State due to San Francisco’s vaccine tenure.

Meanwhile, Miami has caught up with Brooklyn for second in the East and defending champion Milwaukee is only half a game behind. The Nets have only gone 5-6 since a coronavirus outbreak in mid-December at one point landed 10 players in NBA health and safety protocols.

Nash said the tough times gave the Nets an opportunity to learn more about themselves. On the other hand, they already knew the obvious lesson: They aren’t the same without Irving.

“That’s right. We didn’t have our whole group. We’re better when we have our whole group, in almost every scenario,” Nash said. “That said, there has been a slippage since we were income from the COVID break. ”

Irving is one of the few known unvaccinated players in the NBA, and players such as Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins and Washington’s Bradley Beal finally got their shots before warrants in their cities ruled them out of home games. .

Durant and Harden have said they won’t pressure Irving. They know that when he plays the Nets are good enough to knock down leaders in the East at home.

Without him, they’re even beaten by some of the worst players in the NBA on their own turf.

And exactly halfway through their season, that’s about all the Nets know for sure.

“It’s different when we have everyone there. Like last night, that was how it was supposed to be most of the time, you know what I mean?” Said Harden. let’s deal with whatever we’re dealing with, so we just have to go with the flow and figure it out game by game. “

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