About a week and a half ago, it seemed as if the Brooklyn Nets wouldn’t be playing on Christmas Day. Their Dec. 23 game in Portland was officially postponed, and with Kevin Durant in the health and safety protocols, all signs were pointing to James Harden (possibly) being the one to lead the team.
Last Thursday, Harden and Paul Millsap cleared the protocols, giving the Nets a big boost before they were set to travel to Los Angeles. After last playing on Dec. 10, Harden was set to make his return on Christmas against LeBron James and the Lakers in the newly named Crypto.com Arena.
Harden’s 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 122-115 win on Christmas was a gift to Brooklyn fans. His inability to be consistent for the Nets was a recurring theme during the team’s first 30 games of the season, which made his performance that much more impressive.
The 32-year-old stole the show once again on Monday, scoring 39 points in a 124-108 win over the Clippers. Maybe what Harden needed was a break, which is what he got once he entered the protocols. After two huge games for Brooklyn, could Houston Harden be back … for good?
James Harden dominates for the Brooklyn Nets during road trip in LA.
Then came his last two games. They didn’t result in wins for the Nets, but he shot a combined 18-of-42 with 67 points, 26 rebounds and 23 assists. He got to the free throw line a total of 33 times. That’s four straight games of 30 or more points for Harden.
The Nets not being in control of the Eastern Conference hasn’t been a concern, given that they’re 23-11 and in first place. In Kyrie Irving’s absence and amid Harden’s struggles, Durant’s put on a show. He’s averaging a league-high 29.8 points per game, the most for him since his MVP season in 2013-2014.
Harden’s had a few good games sprinkled in here and there, but he hasn’t been anywhere close to the player that he was in Houston. That is, until recently.
Brooklyn fans have a lot to look forward to. Now that both KD and Irving have exited the protocols, the Nets are going to have their three stars back together again, even if it’s just only for away games. Harden shifting back into his prime form couldn’t have come at a better time.
He’s going to help take some of the pressure off Durant, especially during games at Barclays Center when Irving won’t be on the court.
Let’s not forget that Brooklyn entered the year as the preseason title favorites, and after not playing up to that label against playoff-caliber teams, it’s looking like the Nets are back. And if Harden keeps it up, Brooklyn might be near unstoppable.
Like we said, Harden rediscovering his form was the best Christmas gift possible.