Brooklyn’s “Big Three” got their first win together on Saturday night at Barclays Center. The Nets beat the Miami Heat 128-124. Despite getting back in the win column, this was not a pretty win for the Nets. Despite leading by double digits for most of the game, the Nets let Miami stick around. Not only did they stick around, but they came all the way back to within one point with 3 minutes left in the game. On top of all that, Miami was without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Avery Bradley. However, Brooklyn pulled away at the end with a lot of clutch play by their superstars.
The Stars Came Up Clutch
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were unstoppable in the 4th quarter. Irving scored 18 points in the final quarter alone, including 10 points in the final 3 minutes. Irving did miss a clutch free throw with about 8 seconds left in the game while up by only three points, but the Heat failed to call a timeout and got fouled before being able to attempt a three-pointer. However, Durant is still the main event. He had his 5th straight home game with 30 or more points, tying a Nets record. He shot a very efficient 11/19 while Irving shot 10/17.
What Happened to James Harden?
So Durant and Irving played well, but how did Harden do? Harden probably played his worst game as a Net on Saturday. He lacked his typical aggression and scoring prowess. He only attempted 8 field goals the entire game and made 2. One of these makes was actually on a goaltending call, and the other was an easy layup in the final minute. The stat sheet will show you that Harden almost recorded another triple-double, but in reality, this was not a good game for James. He was passive all night and didn’t look to attack the basket. Luckily for him, Joe Harris stepped up and scored 23 points- 20 in the first half. Joey Buckets was automatic tonight and the Nets look to continue getting him more shots. Hopefully, the rise of Harris won’t come at the expense of Harden like it did tonight.
The Nets Defense Still Needs To Improve
The defense still needs work. Bam Adebayo had a career-best 41 points along with 9 assists. Brooklyn’s lack of depth at center seemed to bite them. In crunch time, Jeff Green was playing the role of a small-ball center. Adebayo feasted with the smaller Green guarding him, hitting jumper after jumper. When Jordan was in the game earlier, The Nets failed to rotate quick enough on the perimeter and frequently gave up open threes. Luckily, the Heat were cold from three throughout the first three-quarters of the game. However, the Nets can’t rely on their ability to outscore teams. They must figure it out on defense before it’s too late. Overall, this was an ugly win, but a win nevertheless.