The Brooklyn Nets are the NBA’s newest super team, an offensive juggernaut with two former MVPs in Kevin Durant and James Harden and the owner of one of the greatest finals in NBA history in Kyrie Irving, who is also considered one of the best sets the sport has ever seen.
But LeBron James was unwilling to declare the trio an unprecedented package when asked about Brooklyn ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first game against the new-look Nets on Thursday.
Um, have we forgotten about KD, Steph (Curry) and Clay (Thompson) yet? said James after the Lakers’ 112-104 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night. Here’s how. Here’s how.
James knows the Golden State Warriors well – they beat his Cleveland Cavaliers in back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018.
But Durant, Curry and Thompson scored the most points in 2018-19 with 75.8 per game in three seasons combined.
Durant (29.0), Irving (28.3) and Harden (23.9) averaged 80.7 points for the Nets this season on Tuesday.
Not enough firepower on Thursday. Los Angeles will have to do without Anthony Davis, who suffered a calf sprain and a hamstring injury to his right leg on Sunday. He will visit team doctors when the Lakers return home on Wednesday.
We’ll see how he responds to treatment and we’ll reassess him in a few weeks, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday.
During, on the other hand, was scheduled for Thursday, the third game in a row he will miss because of a sprained left Achilles tendon. Irving, who was absent Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns with lower back pain, is a likely candidate against the Lakers.
However, James said he was looking forward to meeting the Nets in person for the first time.
It’s always exciting for me to be up against the best men in the game – and there were three of them, he said. They have three of the best guys in the game. You absolutely want to get saturated when you play against a team like that and see how you play at that point in the season – how you play against some of the best teams in the league. And of course we won’t be full on Thursday. But other than that, yeah, I love going out there and being on the field with some of the best players in the game.
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James’ teammate, Montrezl Harrell, was less enthusiastic. Last season, he was still playing an NBA game with the Los Angeles Clippers when the historically underperforming franchises added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and became instant favorites to win the title.
Perhaps all the hype surrounding it and the Clippers’ elimination in the second round of the playoffs with the Denver Nuggets taught Harrell that the regular season isn’t always the best indicator of postseason success.
Honestly, I don’t care, Harrell said. We go into every game with a game plan, we know offensively and defensively what we want to do to win this game, and that’s what we’ll have to do on Thursday.
That’s all right. We’re not playing this game. We will not attach any particular importance to this game. Just like any other game, we take things one at a time. We continue to learn, grow and build on each other, and we have to do that at a higher level because we lost one of our greats [in Davis].
Nets head coach Steve Nash said his team is aware of the big challenge the Nets face in their first meeting with the Lakers.
We know who they have there, he said after Brooklyn’s 128-124 victory over the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night. We know how good they are at coaching and what they’ve done in the last year or so. So this is a big test for us. Load these guys up and get ready to recover further.
Netminder James Harden didn’t see it that way: He says the team is more concerned with improving as a unit than with the opponent, even if it is the Lakers.
Offensively we are clearly very good. Defensively, we’re not that good, he said. So we need to find ways to improve in this category we all know. So we’re working on it, and whether it’s the Lakers or another team, it doesn’t matter to us because we’re still working on ourselves, if that makes sense.
We clearly know the caliber of people we’re up against. But the problem is that we work on ourselves. So the Indians, the Sacramentos, Golden State and tonight in Phoenix, all these games we could lose and we could beat the Lakers and it only counts as a win and a loss.
Malika Andrews of ESPN contributed to this report.
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