Brooklyn Nets: Win over Celtics proves team can cope without Kevin Durant and James Harden

Nets forward Jeff Green (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Nets forward Jeff Green (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets’ injury woes have unfortunately overshadowed an otherwise tremendous season, as they just supplanted the Philadelphia 76ers, who have now lost three consecutive games, at the summit of the Eastern Conference.

Despite being down Kevin Durant (thigh contusion) and James Harden (hamstring), the Nets bested the Boston Celtics in primetime on Friday 109-104.

The final score might suggest the game was close from the opening tip, but Boston outscored Brooklyn by 10 in the fourth quarter to make things interesting down the stretch.

In games without Durant and Harden this season — there have been far too many for our liking — Kyrie Irving has tended to go nuclear and post an absurd stat line en route to a Nets win.

Last night, however, was an entirely different story as Brooklyn’s box score was incredibly  balanced, proving once again that they can get by while Durant and Harden work their way back from their respective injuries and get healthy (hopefully) before the playoffs.

The Nets’ depth showed up once again in their win over Boston.

After a blazing hot stretch, Irving finally cooled down and shot just 4-of-19 from the floor. His off shooting night actually almost ended up costing the Nets in the fourth quarter — where he missed all five of his shot attempts — but his teammates managed to pick him up.

Despite not having the stroke, however, Irving’s presence was still felt. The seven-time All-Star finished just one rebound shy of a triple double (15 points, 11 assists) and drained the game-sealing free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

Elsewhere, four other Nets — Joe Harris (20), Jeff Green (19), Blake Griffin (15), who’s sneakily looking more like his prime self of late, and Bruce Brown (15) — tallied double digits in scoring. They didn’t shoot great as a team, but held distinct advantages in the all-important fastbreak points and steal departments.

It’s worth noting that the Celtics were without stars Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Brooklyn’s victory, which was sorely needed amid their stretch of trading wins and losses that dates back to the Lakers loss on April 10.

Fans have their concerns about the fact that Durant, Harden and Irving have played just seven games together this season, and rightfully so. However, it’s victories like this that prove they can make it to at least the Eastern Conference Semifinals with one or two of their stars injured.

That obviously isn’t an ideal scenario, and we’d really like to see both Durant and Harden return before the playoffs. Nevertheless, it should instill confidence in the fan base that the Nets are capable of winning games without that duo AND when Irving doesn’t make his usual impact.