This ultra-big Nets lineup could be the best way to close games

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 15: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kyrie Irving #11, Kevin Durant #7 and James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 15: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kyrie Irving #11, Kevin Durant #7 and James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets appear to be all geared up for another run at the NBA championship in 2021, as any team that can start James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving at the same time will have too much offensive firepower for most teams in the league to contend with on a nightly basis.

However, the Nets are not a perfect team at the moment, as in order to pick up this rare combination of talent on the offensive end, they have had to cut corners elsewhere, especially on the defensive end.

The flaws were obvious over the course of the 2020-21 season.

The best way to fix this issue is in the hands of coach Steve Nash, who needs to get a bit more creative with the rotation after losing players like Spencer Dinwiddie and Jeff Green to free agency. In order to prevent late-game collapses on defense, a new fourth-quarter lineup is an absolute necessity.

What lineup should the Nets unveil to close out wins? It needs a combination of scoring skill, versatility, and interior rim protection.

Given how the roster is currently constructed, this permutation might be one of the more intriguing that Nash could roll out.

This Brooklyn Nets lineup could be perfect for the end of games.

  • PG: James Harden
  • SG: Kyrie Irving
  • SF: Kevin Durant
  • PF: Blake Griffin
  • C: Nicolas Claxton

This lineup doesn’t differ too much from what the usual starting group will look like, as all three of the heavy hitters are on the floor with one another.

With Durant’s ability to score from anywhere, Irving’s incredibly efficient shooting, and Harden’s propensity for triple-doubles, this group can outscore basically anyone.

One of the more noteworthy aspects of this lineup is the fact that projected starter LaMarcus Aldridge is going to take a seat, with Blake Griffin playing like a traditional power forward and Nicolas Claxton taking over the center role. The Nets simply must find ways to get Claxton on the floor.

For reasons that remain lost, Nash didn’t give Claxton a ton of minutes in the playoffs. Considering that the Nets are still a defensively deficient team, there’s no justification for burying the continued growth of Claxton. As a true positionless player, he could finally start to be properly shown off down the stretch of close contests.

Claxton has the height and length to slow down bigs and the speed to handle guards. When paired with Griffin’s ability to space the floor as a shooter and still rock the rim on offense, this yin-yang combination is poised to cause some major issues for opposing teams down the stretch.

Durant played a ton of power forward last season, but he’s still skilled enough on the perimeter to play as a small forward for large chunks of the game. After all, what wing wants to either take on the challenge of guarding Durant with the game on the line or try to get a shot off against his wingspan?

We know that the Nets are going to score tons of points. When all three of their stars are healthy, they might as well start the game with 75 automatic points on the board. However, their postseason success will be determined by how well they perform in crunch time, and an improved defense is a part of that.

The Nets will likely use a small ball style approach that favors speed and shooting over size and strength to win games, but they will need to knuckle up on the defensive end against some of the better teams in the East. If they use this lineup during the course of the season, picking up wins against Brooklyn and Philadelphia might be slightly easier.