A combined 78 points from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant could not lift the Brooklyn Nets over the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this week. But with Seth Curry back in the lineup, the Nets felt whole again on Saturday night during a 110-95 win over the Miami Heat.
Curry missed the Grizzlies loss after reinjuring his left ankle, a setback that caused him to miss three straight games earlier this month. While he got upgraded to available before Saturday’s contest, it remained to be seen how the ankle would impact his mobility and effectiveness.
The younger Curry brother looked just fine.
Curry contributed to a critical bounce-back win for the Nets. Amid all the noise regarding Kyrie Irving’s future and whether Ben Simmons will return before the end of the regular season, the 31-year-old reminded fans of his vital importance to Brooklyn’s title hopes.
The status of Seth Curry’s ankle injury has been a bit of a concern for the Nets
Curry has been a tremendously impactful player for the Nets. The tough part is that he hasn’t been readily available, at least not as of late.
The sharpshooting guard thrived early in his Nets tenure, filling a vital floor-spacing need in the wake of Joe Harris’ continued injury setbacks. Soon enough, though, Curry’s pace began to slow, and an ankle issue forced him to miss three consecutive games between March 13 and March 16.
Curry returned to the lineup and scored 27 points in a March 18 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, but he tweaked the ankle in the next game against the Utah Jazz. The most recent incident seemed especially concerning.
Curry’s ankle has been a consistent bugaboo this season. He missed four games with soreness in January, and the pain hasn’t subsided.
Nevertheless, the former Duke standout showed Saturday why he’s a winning player for Brooklyn, even if he isn’t feeling 100% right.
Curry scored 17 points in just over 21 minutes against the Heat
Seth Curry’s presence seemed to have an instant impact on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
With Curry providing added spacing, Uncle Drew and KD got off to hot starts. Durant repeatedly attacked the heart of the Heat defense, scoring 19 points and racking up six free-throw attempts in the first half. Meanwhile, Irving scored 10 points in the second quarter.
Additionally, the added spacing allowed Andre Drummond to operate more freely in the paint. The two bigs combined for 17 first-half points and racked up a combined six offensive rebounds, patrolling the dunker’s spot and exploiting Brooklyn’s size advantage inside.
Curry didn’t even need to do much in the way of scoring. He did not even attempt a field goal in the second period, but still finished +12 for the quarter in over six minutes of run.
But the Charlotte native came out of the locker room firing.
Curry kept the Nets in control in the third quarter, scoring nearly half (14) of Brooklyn’s 29 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
The Nets cruised to a win, and it was hard not to notice how Curry had something of a calming influence.
Brooklyn builds momentum
With eight games left in the regular season, the Nets have almost zero chance of avoiding the play-in tournament. Brooklyn is three games back of the No. 6-seeded Toronto Raptors.
Still, Steve Nash’s team has strung things together pretty nicely.
The Nets have won seven of their last nine games. Their losses have also been pretty tightly-contested. Can Brooklyn make a run as a lower seed, particularly if Simmons returns and gives this group added playmaking and much-needed perimeter defense? Maybe that doesn’t even matter.
Curry’s efficiency and decent creation off the dribble make the Nets incredibly dangerous offensively. He takes pressure off Durant and Irving while allowing Bruce Brown to excel in his Swiss Army knife role, which forces opponents to guard on an individual level.
Curry showed his value on Saturday. The Nets will likely try to manage his minutes and assure that injuries do not deprive them of a critical piece to the championship puzzle.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.