With the acquisition of James Harden, the Nets become a very dangerous Eastern Conference team, but do they have what it takes to win it all?
On paper, the Nets have the most talented big three in the NBA. On any given night Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving can score 30. With a wide variety of ways to score, these Brooklyn Nets can unload on any opponent. MLK day was special. Another double-double for Harden and an incredible performance by the best athlete in New York Kevin Durant. Now enter Kyrie in the mix.
Out for personal reasons, Kyrie came back for the Cleveland road trip. A double-overtime thriller resulted in a 147-135 loss by the hands of Collin Sexton. *Sigh* Sexton was unconscious in the second overtime going on a 15-0 run himself. Steve Nash drove his starters to the ground last night. Both Durant and Harden played 50 minutes while Irving played 48. Nash has been riding his starters a lot lately. However, I understand the MLK day game. It was against the presumed number one seed Bucks, a nationally televised game, and Harden’s debut against a title contender. It was a must-win in many Nets fans’ eyes. With no Kyrie, they were able to accomplish what they sought after.
I can also see why Nets fans can be confused about last night’s loss to the Cavaliers. It was sloppy with 16 turnovers and lazy defense. Our beloved Fro (Jarrett Allen) dominated inside and even gained the trust of the Cavaliers coaching staff to play over Andre Drummond down the stretch. While Allen ate the Nets alive on the inside and Taureen Prince finding his stroke with the Cavs to the tune of 17 points, the trade chips excelled against their former team.
Contenders have nights like this. The bench did not contribute much. With a measly 10 points from Perry and Harris, it was a major letdown. That’s it, only 10 bench points, that’s an absolute debacle of a performance from the bench unit. Joe Harris headed back to play with the second unit, has been a menace all season making half his three-pointers and providing stingy and productive minutes. While Harris did not contribute on the offensive end as much as he would like, coming up with 50-50 balls and rebounding with the best of them put the Nets in a great spot to overcome their early deficit. The surprise signing of Uncle Jeff Green has paid off and he has been inserted into the starting lineup. With his open looks, he was phenomenal at shooting the ball last night. Other than that, the role player provided very little and allowed the Cavs to steal this winnable game.
It’s one game so I would not put a ton of stock in it, but Kyrie shot 28 times while Harden ripped off 14. No bueno. Honestly, it should be the other way around. Kyrie has been quoted numerous times saying he did not want to play hero ball this year. Well, he took some poor shots throughout the course of the game and seemed like a black hole at times. Passing up wide-open teammates to take the tough jumpers will not allow this team to show their true potential. While he didn’t have the ball, there was barely any movement and a whole lot of watching Harden and Durant do their thing. Things like this take time so while I am not concerned, everyone has to be better off the ball. This team is too talented to waste the prime years of three top 12 players.
There are still three roster spots that need to be filled and I believe the general manager Sean Marks is doing the correct thing and waiting for the buy-out market. This team needs another big man and a defensive-minded wing. I wish the Nets kept Garrett Temple. He would have fit beautifully with this roster. Erase last nights loss, the Nets are the team in New York right now. While they may be frustrating at times, there is no denying the star power and championship aspirations. There’s a switch and we saw that in the Bucks game. Just believe! They aren’t the little brother anymore.