James Harden has been a force for the Houston Rockets since he was drafted in 2009. He’s also been a force on social media, where he’s consistently ranked as one of the most popular players in the league.
James Harden of the Houston Rockets has widened the Brooklyn Nets’ back with a bold claim. In Game 2, he scored 41 points and made 7 three-pointers. Read more in detail here: brooklyn nets lineup.
To say the Brooklyn Nets’ 2020-21 season was a disappointment would be an understatement. The Nets, who finally had Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the court together, were one of the obvious favorites to win the 2021 NBA Finals, despite being one of the most talented teams on paper even before James Harden arrived. The Nets’ season ended in the Eastern Conference semis, when they were defeated by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, due to injuries to Brooklyn’s “Big 3.”
Despite the fact that the 2021-22 season is only a few months away, the Nets are already considered the favorites to win the NBA Finals in 2022, as Durant, Irving, and Harden are anticipated to be at full health when they begin their first full year together. Every time Brooklyn enters the court, there will undoubtedly be a target on their back, as it is with great teams. But it doesn’t appear to faze Harden in the least, as he increased the size of the bullseye while expressing his thoughts on his team.
In 2020-21, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden only appeared in 13 games together.
Many thought it was a foregone conclusion that Brooklyn would win its first NBA championship after Harden was traded from the Rockets to the Nets in January. Who could possibly defeat a triumvirate of Durant, Irving, and Harden?
But when Harden made his debut appearance in a Nets jersey, Irving wasn’t even with the club since he was still on his million-dollar leave of absence. Durant missed almost two months after sustaining a hamstring injury against the Golden State Warriors less than a month after Kyrie returned. Harden suffered a hamstring injury of his own just before KD was about to return, missing more than a month before returning to play two of the Nets’ last three regular-season games.
Durant, Irving, and Harden only played eight games together from January 16, Harden’s first game with Brooklyn, until the conclusion of the regular season on May 16, going 6-2. The three then defeated the Boston Celtics 4-1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Harden, on the other hand, only played 43 seconds in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs before reinjuring his hamstring and not playing again until Game 5. Irving suffered an ankle injury in Game 4 and was forced to sit out the remainder of the series.
Durant, Irving, and Harden played 13 games together in total (not including Game 1 vs the Bucks) and went 10-3.
Harden claims that if the Nets are at full strength, “nobody can defeat them.”
James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets versus the Milwaukee Bucks during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2021 | Elsa/Getty Images
Harden recently talked with Sports Illustrated for a long interview in which he praised Durant, Irving, and Nets head coach Steve Nash, whom he refers to as the “ultimate players’ coach.” Durant, he adds, is “very nice” and “as modest as they come.” It’s a bit strange that this interview came out the day after KD openly lamented his lack of a 99 rating in NBA2K22, stating, “I pretty much do everything well,” but we’ll ignore that.
Harden calls Irving “one of the most talented players” he’s ever seen, and adds that playing with him makes his job “a lot simpler.” He’s obviously excited to play for the Nets for the whole season, and he’s made a strong message to the rest of the league:
“No one can defeat us at full strength. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
The Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden
Harden also said that the Nets have no chip on their shoulder and just “know what we have to accomplish.” This offseason, he adds, his primary emphasis has been on fitness. Brooklyn wants to make sure he’s fully recovered from his hamstring issue before reporting to training camp in late September.
The Nets will be extremely good, but they can be defeated.
I fully see why Harden believes the Nets can compete at full strength. I really believe that. However, claiming that “nobody can defeat us” is a stretch.
Yes, Durant, Irving, and Harden are probably the most dangerous three in the NBA when they are healthy. That can’t be argued with. In addition, Brooklyn has a lot of good players on its roster for the 2021-22 season. Patty Mills, an experienced guard, was an excellent addition. Joe Harris is the epitome of underappreciation. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan aren’t the same players they once were, but they’re still capable of doing the job.
But it’s not like Durant, Irving, and Harden are the league’s only threatening “Big 3.” That was recently shown by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday. And the Bucks have some capable role players of their own. What makes them even more dangerous is that they’ve now won an NBA championship. So, do you think they’ll simply give up and let the Nets run away with the Eastern Conference? It’s very improbable.
What about Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry, the Miami Heat’s new “Big 3”? The Atlanta Hawks, who surprised everyone by reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, will only get better. So let’s not kid ourselves that the Nets will have it easy in the Eastern Conference.
Who will be waiting for them if they remain healthy and make it to the NBA Finals? Perhaps LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as their new supporting cast? Or a Golden State Warriors squad that is healthy? Or the Phoenix Suns, with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton? I’d say the Clippers are next, but we all know they’ll somehow clipper themselves out of contention.
Even if Harden and the Nets are at full strength, any of these teams might defeat them. Is it true that the Nets have a lot of talent? Absolutely. Unbeatable? Certainly not. Now all we have to do is wait and watch how everything plays out.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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