What’s it like to be the best three-point shooter in the NBA?
For Joe Harris, it isn’t something he thinks much about. Harris was shooting a league-best 48.0% from downtown heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Yet, finishing the season as the NBA’s top long-range shooter is not exactly a goal of his.
"I don’t really pay that much attention to it. I didn’t know until you told me," Harris after the Nets shootaround Tuesday. "It’s not necessarily that important. I mean, I led the league in three-point shooting a couple of years ago and I got a little plaque trophy from the NBA. So, it’s not that big of a deal."
What may be a bigger deal for Harris and the Nets is that they find a way to knock more three-point shots against the Bucks, a team they very likely could meet in the playoffs. In the Nets’ thrilling 117-114 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday, Harris and Kyrie Irving combined to shoot 3-for-13 from downtown.
Harris, who led the NBA in three-point accuracy in 2018-19 when he made 47.4% of his shots, was 5-for-7 from behind the arc against the Bucks when the Nets beat them in January. On Sunday, Milwaukee did a few things defensively that made it a little harder and Harris was 1-for-5.
"First of all, Milwaukee’s just a good defensive team," said Harris, who was 2-for-8 from downtown on Sunday. "Lot of guys that have played together. They have a lot of length, athleticism, and they do a good job reading whatever the offensive team is doing.
"They kind of change up too; to be honest, a lot of times they were mixing up whether or not they were going over the top of screens or shooting the gap. As an offensive player it almost puts a little bit of indecision in your mind when you’re hoping to do the opposite."
It wasn’t just Harris who struggled against the Bucks on Sunday. Jrue Holiday, known as one of the better defenders in the league, was all over Irving, holding him to 8-for-21 shooting overall and 2-for-8 from three-point range. Harris said that doing things to free up Irving was a "topic of discussion" at practice Monday and the shootaround Tuesday.
"There’s got to be more opportunities where guys are coming in screens early with Kyrie where he’s not coming down into half court, setting and having to try and create space on his own against an exceptional defender like Holiday," Harris said.
Nets coach Steve Nash pointed to his team’s 16 turnovers and said that his team created a lot of their own problems offensively.
"We didn’t shoot the ball really well. We weren’t really sharp," Nash said. "We turned the ball over a ton, unforced turnovers. They're a good defensive team. We scored 114 points and didn’t shoot the ball well and turned it over. It’s more about us playing a little better and sharper and taking care of the basketball."
Notes & quotes: Nash doesn’t see Spencer Dinwiddie returning from knee surgery in time to play this season, despite some optimistic posts from Dinwiddie on Instagram. Said Nash: "I don’t think so. We haven’t seen him since the turn of the year almost. It’s very difficult to expose him to full NBA playoff basketball with the type of injury he has. We want to look out for his long-term health first and foremost. And second of all: [his] adapting back to the team environment. [With] all those things together, it seems like it’s probably very unlikely. But who knows? Stranger things have happened."