1. Unleash James Harden When He’s Ready
For obvious reasons, Harden is going to need to be more consistent with his scoring abilities. He visibly struggled at the start of the year with crackdown on fouls, but he’s been steadily improving.
Harden scored a season-high 39 points on 11-of-18 shooting last Friday against New Orleans, while adding 12 assists and five rebounds. Yes, the Pelicans are far from an elite team, but Harden’s performance was still extremely promising. Harden and Durant combined for a whopping 67 points. Following the win, he said, “I’m getting there.” And he is. His conditioning was off entering the year because he spent the offseason rehabbing his hamstring injury, but it’s coming around.
Last Sunday, he scored 16 points and dished out 13 assists. Durant’s game hasn’t dropped off, but if he has a few games where he isn’t at his best, the Nets will be looking toward Harden. It’ll be beneficial for everyone involved if Durant isn’t the lone player that’s coming out and dominating on a nightly basis.
If Brooklyn makes it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2003, it’s going to be because of both Durant and Harden. The Nets fell short of the mark last year, even with KD’s exceptional play, because Harden and Irving were absent. This time around, they’ll be able to make it over the hill if both players are at their best. And by at their best, we mean that Durant won’t be completely burnt out by the time that the playoffs roll around.
Whenever Harden is out of the woods with his hamstring injury/lingering effects of his rehab, Nash needs to unleash the former MVP and let him take over games to take some pressure off KD.