At just 6’2 his ability to create space from defenders, ridiculous shot-making, and unreal ball-handling skills make the former Duke Blue Devil a nightmare to guard. One of Kyrie’s more unappreciated attributes is his toughness on the floor. On Tuesday against the Bulls Irving’s toughness was put to the test.
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Kyrie Takes Vicious Elbow From Nikola Vucevic
In the second half of the game against the Bulls, Irving caught a nasty elbow from Bulls’ All-Star Nikola Vucevic. He was slow to get up before being taken to the locker room and did not return to the contest. The Nets are calling Kyrie’s injury a facial contusion.
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Kyrie Praises the Growth of Blake Griffin
The resurgence of 6-time All-Star Blake Griffin has been a delight for many NBA fans to see since joining the Nets in March. He has looked much spryer on the court which has earned him a minutes increase over the past few weeks. Irving knows what Griffin can do on the court will be a big part of the team’s success moving forward.
“That’s what we need Blake to be in terms of being out there, being an option for us, being a playmaker,” Irving told reporters following Saturday’s win over the Denver Nuggets via NetsDaily.
Griffin had arguably his best game as a Net on Saturday, the All-Star forward had 20 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists. Griffin has also begun to develop a reliable three-point shot, something that has not been a part of his repertoire in previous years. In Saturday’s matchup with the Nuggets, Griffin drilled 4 threes in the third quarter in route to a 21-point comeback against one of the West’s elite teams.
“His game has evolved. We understand that he’s going to play a different style with us out there and that’s going to compliment us when he figures that role out. Right now, we just need him to stay aggressive playing as our big, especially on that defensive end. We’re asking a lot out of him, so we just got to help him out as best we can. Tonight, was a great stepping stone for him as well as his role on our team.”
Harden Believe Nets’ Talent Will Trump Everything Else
Griffin has filled a big role for the Nets in the absence of their league Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden who has been away from the team with a hamstring injury since April 5.
The Nets All-Star trio of Irving, Durant, and Harden has still only played a total of 7 games together, which has caused many people to question how that will affect the team’s chemistry moving forward. ‘The Beard’ is not concerned about that because he knows that the Nets’ talent will trump any glaring deficiencies that they have.
“Skill-wise, we’re elite,” Harden told reporters last week per the Boston Globe. “I’m not worried at all. You look at teams like Milwaukee, whose pretty much core has been together for a few years. They have been through playoff trenches. So, they’ve got that chemistry. They have been through tough times. We haven’t.”
“You’ve got three of the most elite basketball players in the game today and probably that’s ever played in terms of skill-wise. That’s not the problem. The problem is the detailed things. We know our roles. It’s not about scoring the basketball, but the other things. Once we get that, it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
The Nets play the second half of a back-to-back on Wednesday when they face off against the San Antonio Spurs