Nets' Big 3 damn nearly unbeatable when healthy, but that never seems to be the case

The Brooklyn Nets are 13-3 when Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving take the floor together and 59-35 when at least one superstar is sidelined. 

The reality may be sinking in that a combination of age, overusage and injury might prevent fans from seeing the ultimate version of the Big 3 that many anticipated. Whether it's hamstring strains, COVID-19 protocols, compliance with local vaccine mandates, missing time for personal reasons and a multitude of other issues, the Nets are, in fact, hardly ever whole. In the tiny sample size as a complete unit, Brooklyn has shown glimpses of being a dynastic group and deserving of the title as the odds-on favorite to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

 As the Nets found out in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, championships are not won on paper. Steve Nash has been dealt a hand of three Aces, but when he's unable to play his best cards, the Nets' bench and supporting cast has been exposed. Despite the emergence of a trio of talented rookies in Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards and David Duke, the win-now Brooklyn Nets are now just 1-8 against the top-four seeds in each conference and even after shellacking the East's top club in the Bulls on Wednesday night, two-thirds of the Big 3 was sidelined in a lopsided loss to Oklahoma City on Thursday. Just when Brooklyn appears to be building momentum, camaraderie and chemistry, something pops up that disrupts that progress. The Nets are their own worst enemy. 

When Nash's crew is locked in on both sides of the ball, compliant with local vaccine mandates and perhaps most importantly, healthy, there are only a handful of teams who can hang with the group labeled "Scary Hours". The Nets are halfway through the regular season, Irving has played in merely three games, Durant's minutes are at an all-time high and Harden took nearly 30 games to start resembling the player who carried the Nets for stretches of the 2020-2021 season. The NBA All-Star break is less than a month away and Brooklyn needs to get its ducks in a row if it hopes to ramp things up in time for a championship pursuit. 

Keeping the Big 3 healthy, developing chemistry with the supporting cast, while not overtaxing them with heavy minutes should be on Nash's mind throughout the remainder of the year. As the numbers show, the Nets are one of the most talented Big 3's the league has ever seen, but unless they're whole in more aspects than one, this team may fall short of its tremendous upside.

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