Kyrie Irving earned the right to play hero for the Nets, even in the form of an ill-advised 30-footer

With five seconds to play and networks Trailing Miami by one, Kyrie Irving stopped what might at first appear to be an unwise, if not terrible player, and potentially game-winning 30-footer.

But keep in mind the context. Kevin Durant was not on the floor, as he left in the third quarter with a knee injury. Much of what the Nets do offensively depends on Durant demanding multiple defenders, even if he’s a jump shooter, and Irving, especially against spinning defenses, being able to feed off one-on-one.

Without Durant, however, Irving was surrounded by several defenders on Sunday. the the heat They were throwing it all at him, forcing the ball out of his hands with the match in the balance. he was working. The Nets were completely out of sync trying to create an offense with Irving removed from the equation, and committed a turnover on their previous two possessions with less than a minute to play.

Thus, Irving decided to make sure he got his chance to win the game before Miami could pull the ball off him again. Anticipating the double team, he just kicked off the slogan. He missed it right, but Royce O’Neal came up with the loose rebound and put in the shot that would eventually prove to be the game-winner for Brooklyn in a 102-101 victory.

Again, this shot of Irving is a very bad decision in a vacuum. Grids didn’t need a triple pointer. Not to mention the 30 footer. It probably came very early on the clock too, if you want to get technical. You hear all the time about superstars who “play right” at the end of games, meaning they don’t force offense when multiple defenders attack them, and instead do exactly what the defense wants them to do by passing to someone else.

Seth Curry had a great fourth quarter on Sunday, but he wasn’t on the floor for the final possession. Yes, the Nets still had several players capable of hitting the open appearance that Irving created, getting double attention, including O’Neale and Yuta Watanabe, but they also had two non-pitching players in Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton. Neither O’Neale nor Watanabe is a trustworthy builder with the game on the line in terms of attacking defense in turns and arming Simmons or Claxton as a lob threat.

Again, this is why Miami wanted to get the ball out of Irving’s hands. As a general rule, if you do what the defense wants you to do, the defense wins regardless of the outcome. I would argue that the same is true when viewed in reverse. If you take the shot that gives your team the best chance of success, that’s a winning shot, no matter the results.

Go ask Jacque Vaughn if he wants Irving to take the winning shot in this situation. Without Durant on the floor and considering other players’ failures to create during the last minute, he’ll tell you, sure, 100 times out of 100.

Could Irving have worked to get a little closer to the edge? Definitely. But with every split second he caught that ball it was more and more likely to be knocked out of his hands. Also, this is almost the same shot that Irving hit less than 48 hours earlier to seal the Nets’ win over New Orleans on Friday.

Take it back three weeks to irving bell to beat wild birds. The play was called to Durant, who then suggested playing the same play to Irving, who eagerly lobbied Vaughn at the time-out pool for the opportunity. Vaughn listened to his senior comrades. The entire exchange was captured on film before Irving hit the ground and handed him over.

This group exchange sheds rare light on the inner workings of a suddenly linked team at the peak of its massive power. Every Nets player now understands this and embraces their role, and Irving’s role, especially without KD by his side, is to kick and hit hard shots. He did it at a very high rate.

Coming into action on Sunday, Irving was the league’s leading scorer in the fourth quarter with 8.9 points per game on 50 percent shooting. He just finished averaging 29 points per game in the 51-42-92 shooting splits for the month of December. He had 24 points in the first half on Sunday. It was his game, and that was it for him shooting. a little deep? Definitely. A bit of a rush? Think. But Irving earned the right to take that shot; Not over the course of his Hall of Fame career, but within the specific context of this Nets team at this particular time.

Irving has been deservedly criticized for all the times and ways he has undermined this Nets team during his tenure and Durant, and if we can keep his name in the headlines when he does flop, we can certainly do the same when he’s one of the driving forces behind a team that looks as united as any. team in the league. They both celebrate successes. Irving and O’Neal shaking hands after big plays, a picture of a team having legitimate fun.

All of that good vibes were behind that Sunday snap of Irving. Every player on that field was rooting for him, and they believed he would succeed. That way, it really didn’t matter that he didn’t enter. Even if O’Neal hadn’t come up with that rebound and the Heat had lost the game, the Nets would still be winners in the big picture. They know who they are, and they’re ready to bond with their mates.

In the past, Irving would hit a shot like that, at a time like this, missing his team’s cost, the game would have been, or would have been torn, in the already worn dressing room fabric. But this team is as tight as ever at the moment. In that context, Irving took that shot with his teammates behind him, and it was fitting that it was his teammate who took it. Networks is in this together now, and if it stays that way, it will be as dangerous as anyone who comes along at title time.

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