As much as the Boston Celtics are shorthanded with Jaylen Brown being out until next season, the Brooklyn Nets deserve credit for playing an utterly dominant brand of basketball.
The Nets took a 2-0 series lead today with a 130-108 win that was a great display of team basketball. They achieved that score without a single player reaching the 30-point milestone, even though they have quite possibly the best offensive trio in history with James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Here’s how the Nets spread their production today amongst players that played 20 minutes or more:
- Kevin Durant: (26 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 4 BLK) – 29 minutes
- Kyrie Irving: (15 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST, 1 BLK) – 28 minutes
- James Harden: (20 PTS, 5 REB, 7 AST, 1 STL) – 27 minutes
- Joe Harris: (25 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK) – 29 minutes
- Blake Griffin: (11 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST) – 20 minutes
- Landry Shamet: (10 PTS, 2 REB) – 25 minutes
- Brent Brown: (6 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST) – 22 Minutes
As you can see, it’s not just that the Nets didn’t need a 30-point night from any of their stars. They also didn’t even need anyone to spend 30 minutes on the court, with Harris and Durant getting the closest to the mark at 29 minutes.
The Nets were crazy efficient, too. They shot 46 of 88 from the field (52.3%) and 17 of 38 from three (44.7%). They also assisted on 31 of their 46 made baskets, a rate of 67.3%.
With Harden, Irving and Durant on the floor, it basically becomes impossible to use any double teams. Unlike when they had to play with only one or two stars through large stretches of the regular season, opposing teams can no longer gamble on forcing double teams on whoever is playing too much iso ball to try and force the Nets to burn clock or take more bad shots.
That’s a recipe for disaster now, because the Nets have confident shooters surrounding their Big Three, so there’s always going to be someone open to drain a triple. Harris benefited the most from this today, as he shot lights out with 7 of 10 from beyond the arc.
So while Brooklyn are certainly playing against an opponent that’s not at full strength, their success in Game 2 also gives them a blueprint to success throughout the playoffs. They’re looking like they’re continuing to build more trust with each other, and Harden’s stabilizing presence will only increase as he gets his legs back after his long layoff.