Two-time NBA champion Ray Allen wonders if the Brooklyn Nets have a deep enough bench to make a run for the title in 2021.
The Brooklyn Nets are six games into the newest ‘Big 3’. At 4-2 since James Harden arrived, the super-charged Nets are off to an acceptable start but don’t have the feel of a team that is going cruise through the regular season.
Cruising was the way the original, modern ‘Big 3’ of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Piece went about their business, bulldozing to 66 regular-season wins on way to their one championship together. Ray Allen remembers a group focused from the get-go.
“In 2007-08 we led wire-to-wire,” Allen said. “We did exactly what we were supposed to do. It’s a huge undertaking when you come from myself, Paul and Kevin previous seasons and teams where we didn’t win and now we’re expected to win a championship. You think about it, it’s daunting because you’re trying to win a championship and you don’t know what it takes.”
The Nets are blessed with championship-winning experience in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Harden has also come close, losing in the Western Conference Finals. Off the bench, Jeff Green also was a key contributor for Cleveland in the 2018 Finals. Green could be a key piece for this year’s Nets.
“You think about the guys that filled out that [Celtics] roster,” Allen said. “James Posey was an integral part in what we did. Posey was in the gym as much or more than I was shooting. He was the glue that kept us together. He’d take charges, he was one of those guys who didn’t care about his statistics. He just wanted to do whatever it took to help the team win and he had won before.”
So who else can be a Nets glue guy? Green fits that description best right now, but the Nets’ bench is thin. Boston used a nine-man rotation buoyed by veteran additions Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown late in the season.
To win it this year, the Nets need more veteran help. Miami is off to a slow start and might be willing to part with Andre Iguodala. JaVale McGee has made the Nets rumor mill. How about Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony or P.J. Tucker? All make different levels of sense.
Making any deal will be challenging since the Nets are nearly devoid of assets after the Harden deal. Ultimately, Allen thinks it will take a combination from this ‘Big 3’ version and whoever the Nets add to win it all.
“I understand what those three guys are capable of doing offensively,” Allen said. “One, you have to ask are they willing to concede shots, concede ego at some point throughout the season. Whether it’s a couple of games or it’s a couple of shots in the fourth quarter. Then, more importantly, what’s around them that allows them to win when those three guys aren’t playing their best.”
Right now, the Nets are not winning games unless the Big 3 plays well. We’ll see if they can change that or if it’s enough to carry them to a title.
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