Connect with us

Brooklyn Nets

For Nets, it’s on to Houston … and Harden

Beating the Celtics has an extra little kick to it, doesn’t it? The Nets took home a solid win against Boston on Monday night as D’Angelo Russell led his team to victory over what is now a completely disgruntled and frustrated Celtics team.

You love to see it.

Even though it got a little close there at the end, DLo’s 3rd Quarter was so scorching hot that it gave the Nets enough of a lead to hold off a Celtics comeback.

The Nets are in Houston for this next one to face James Harden in the middle of an absolutely incredible and almost unfathomable run of basketball. The Rockets will be without Chris Paul and Clint Capela for an extended period of time, and the Nets will look to take another win from a good but depleted team in this one. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN at 8:00 pm, ET

Injuries

Caris LeVert (foot) Allen Crabbe (knee) and Dzanan Musa (shoulder) and Jared Dudley (hamstring) are all still out while Rondae-Hollis Jefferson is close to a return and might even play in this one! He’s officially probable. Shabazz Napier (hamstring) is questionable.

Chris Paul (hamstring) and Clint Capela (thumb) are the high-profile stars who are out while Eric Gordon (knee) and Brandon Knight (knee) have also been dealing with some injury issues.

The Game

James Harden has averaged 41.3 points over his last 17 games going back to December 12th. That is a real, actual statistic. He is on a run that is damn near close to being unparalleled in NBA history. He is one of only three players, including Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain —who played 50 years ago— to score 30+ points in 17 consecutive games. He scored 57 against the Grizzlies on Monday. He is going to be an problem.

There is no great blueprint for thwarting James Harden which is in large part due to his offensive versatility. He can go downhill where he either finishes or draws a foul or he can hit anyone anywhere anytime with a devastating stepback three. He can also pass out of whatever defense is thrown at him, he’s averaging 9.8 assists per game over his last three seasons. The key for the Nets is to shut down the guys around Harden, and with all of Houston’s injuries that looks like an increasingly easier task … or easier that guarding Harden.

One of the Rockets greatest strengths last season was their depth, but due to an underwhelming off-season and some untimely injuries, the starters who aren’t named James Harden are named Austin Rivers, Nene, and PJ Tucker and someone else. Beating the Celtics has an extra little kick to it, doesn’t it? The Nets took home a solid win against Boston on Monday night as D’Angelo Russell led his team to victory over what is now a completely disgruntled and frustrated Celtics team. You love to see it. Even though it got a little close there at the end, DLo’s 3rd Quarter was so scorching hot that it gave the Nets enough of a lead to hold off a Celtics comeback.

The Nets are in Houston for this next one to face James Harden in the middle of an absolutely incredible and almost unfathomable run of basketball. The Rockets will be without Chris Paul and Clint Capela for an extended period of time, and the Nets will look to take another win from a good but depleted team in this one. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN at 8:00 pm, ET

Injuries

Caris LeVert (foot) Allen Crabbe (knee) and Dzanan Musa (shoulder) and Jared Dudley (hamstring) are all still out while Rondae-Hollis Jefferson is close to a return and might even play in this one!

Chris Paul (hamstring) and Clint Capela (thumb) are the high-profile stars who are out while Eric Gordon (knee) and Brandon Knight (knee) have also been dealing with some injury issues.

The Game

James Harden has averaged 41.3 points over his last 17 games spanning back to December 12th. That is a real, actual statistic. He is on a run that is damn near close to being unparalleled in NBA history. He is one of only three players, including Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain —played 50 years ago—, to score 30+ points in 17 consecutive games. He scored 57 against the Grizzlies on Monday. He is going to be an issue.

There is no blueprint for guarding James Harden which is due to his offensive versatility. He can go downhill where he either finishes or draws a foul or he can hit anyone anywhere anytime with a devastating step back three. He can also pass out of whatever defense is thrown at him, he’s averaging 9.8 assists per game over his last three seasons. The key for the Nets is to shut down the guys around Harden, and with all of Houston’s injuries that is becoming an easier task … or easier than stopping Harden anyway.

One of the Rockets biggest strengths last season was their depth, but due to an underwhelming off-season and some untimely injuries, the starters right now who aren’t named James Harden are named Austin Rivers, Nene, and PJ Tucker … and someone else.

Danuel House Jr. was supposed to be the fifth guy but late Tuesday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that House and the Rockets couldn’t come to a contract agreement. A two-way, House had reached the 45-day limit afforded two-ways and the Rockets didn’t give him an NBA contract to his liking. So he can play for Rio Grande Valley Vipers but not the Rockets.

Their best bench players are Gerald Green, Gary Clark, and like, literally Isaiah Hartenstein. So not really a murderers row.

Brooklyn, however, has one of the best bench units in the league and are second in bench scoring behind only the Clippers. Led by the (“slumping”) Spencer Dinwiddie and Red Hot DeMarre Carroll, Kenny’s second unit will have to look to establish leads during the few times James Harden isn’t on the court in order to hold him off when he is. If this preview is sounding a lot like Brooklyn vs. James Harden, it’s because at this point “The Beard” is such a significant portion of Houston’s offense that it’s impossible to separate the two.

D’Angelo Russell, as great as he’s been lately, could definitely take a lesson from Harden’s game in the “drawing fouls” category. D’Angelo has never been a big foul shots guy, and even during his recent eight-game hot streak he’s shooting just 2.4 a game. Then again, Brian Scalabrine did ask the other night, “Who is this guy, James Harden?”

Jarrett Allen, who is occasionally compared to Clint Capela, might have another big game in the absence of his competitor. Allen put up a big 19-point, 12-rebound and 4-block performance against Al Horford and Co. So, it’ll be fun to see what he can do against a big man rotation of Nene, Hartenstein, and Marquese Chriss (I swear I’m not making this up). Also, Allen will be back home in Texas.

The other big Net performance we saw against Boston was from Rodions Kurucs who is now averaging 21.5 points per game in his two contests against Atlantic Division rivals which makes watching Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown a little more palatable. Look for him to have another high energy performance in Houston.

The Nets will go into the game a half game back on Miami, the sixth seed. Kenny Atkinson is thinking positive thoughts, but also wants fans to know the playoffs are a long way away.

“We’re making strides toward doing something special here, but I’m super-cautious,” he said, post-game. “I just want our group to stay humble, understand we’ve got to lock into each game, lock into the Nets and getting better, and good things can happen.

“We’re in a position we’ve never been in,” Atkinson added. Indeed.

Player To Watch

The Rockets have been up and down the Western Conference standings all season, and before this recent stretch of Harden games it felt like there was a legitimate shot they could miss the playoffs all together. They still might. They’re 4.5 games out of first and just 2 games ahead of eight. It’s a precarious position to be in. So, in order to boost the rotation and try and find a spark somewhere amidst all their injuries, GM Daryl Morey went out and signed Austin Rivers which has actually seemed to work out pretty well so far.

In 11 games as a Rocket, he’s playing 37.8 minutes a game, shooting 45% from the field and 39% from three, and contributing a solid 13.3 points per game. With their options so limited at the moment, he’s essentially Mike D’Antoni’s second scoring option and can hit some shots when it’s very inconvenient for the other team. Maybe this is a good role for Rivers, who has never really had a great role that felt right for him in the NBA, even while playing for his dad in LA.

From The Vault

Sometimes I remember how big Yao Ming was and I have to go back and watch highlights to really understand it. Guy was absolutely gigantic and so much fun to watch.

Enjoy.

For a different perspective, head on over to The Dream Shake, our Rockets sister site on SB Nation.

Source Link

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Brooklyn Nets