Nets need Kyrie Irving to be a consistent downside offensive force

If the Nets have any hope of digging out of this self-digged hole and winning a title, they need Kyrie Irving starring, not fighting.

Irving broke his jitters in spectacular fashion on Tuesday night, jokingly crediting the Post’s pregame advice to drive more to help him with that.

After scoring an easy 42-point win over Houston and attacking the basket with fervor, Irving walked into the post-game press conference and before asking questions, asked The Post, “Did I drive enough? I followed your advice.”

When told it was effective, he joked, “I’ll see you in coaching one day; maybe fifth grade, eighth grade.”

Jokes aside, the Nets need to see more of the same from Irving, with two more games on the schedule after Wednesday night’s tilt with Cross River rivals Knicks at the Garden.

Irving is arguably the greatest finisher of any small guard in NBA history. His ability to dribbling almost any defender to get to the trophy almost at will is a weapon that can unlock the Nets’ offense. if he uses it.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“I just thought he played well,” said Steve Nash. “I didn’t get too carried away by the shot numbers. I think that happens to everyone and they’re going through a big change. Play now at home and away. Play longer minutes, longer distances with all the injuries.

“So I think it’s understandable that he might not have fired [at] his normal clip for a couple of weeks there. But I’d bet on him every time it gets back to normal. It was great to see him feeling on rhythm and having his legs under him [Tuesday] Night.”

This adjustment has been made in spurts. In Brooklyn’s five games going into the Rockets Tilt, Irving had averaged 21.4 points at 36.2 percent throwing — and just 35.2 percent at jumpers, who will always have those ups and downs Nash spoke of .

“When I’m cycling my efficiency on and off and not taking as many shots, it puts a little more pressure on our team,” Irving said. “Maybe I’ll take your advice and drive a little more.”

In the Nets’ last five games, which began Tuesday, Irving averaged just 21.4 points on 36.2 percent shooting — including 35.2 percent on jumpers, who always come and go.

But Irving – who averaged 5.8 layup attempts per game last season and averaged 6.8 attempts in 2016-17 – hadn’t unleashed his greatest weapon during that mini-shooting lull.

Irving – who has been averaging just 3.4 layup attempts per game this season and 2.4 during that five-game sled – came on the can for six on Tuesday. And sucked in the defense, created open looks for his teammates and made the nets better.

And it made Irving better too, his dangerous all-star self who will need Kevin Durant by his side if the Nets are to win the title.

Irving shot 13 of 24 from the floor and 8 of 16 from 3-point range. He dished out six assists, and the offense looked like the attack they want in the play-in — and need against one of the Eastern Conference’s top seeds if they progress.

“Obviously you have two players – when you have Kryie and Kevin Durant – that puts a lot of pressure on you. And then they surrounded her with gunfire,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. “Whatever their record is, you throw it out the window. Lots of extenuating circumstances obviously, their track record tells you how good they are. Nets need Kyrie Irving to be a consistent downside offensive force


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