It was the beginning of a new era in Brooklyn. The 'Big 3' era.
Just a day after officially acquiring James Harden, the Nets believed he was ready to roll on Saturday night against the Magic.
KD and The Beard in blue again!
For the past eight seasons, we have associated the Rockets' franchise with James Harden.
It was odd to see him suit up in a colour so off the radar and secondly, what a coincidence that his first game reuniting with his former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant, the Nets were set to don their blue Classic Edition jerseys.
Defensive playmaking start
Harden's first play as a Net was a steal, stripping rookie Cole Anthony in the second possession of the game. In fact, that and his spectacular playmaking was how the first half of his debut shaped up.
His first dime was to sharpshooter Joe Harris.
James to Joe.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 16, 2021
yep yep yep we can get used it. pic.twitter.com/xnuHF46uEQ
That was the first of seven assists in the first half for Harden, responsible for 16 points while scoring eight himself on 3-of-7 shooting. That's not all, though.
He also showed that his first play, a steal, was not a one-off, recording a couple more before the teams went back to the locker rooms at the intermission.
Euro-step, of course!
Over the years in Houston, Harden's reputation as one of the greatest offensive players ever grew because of the slew of ways he could break down and attack the opposition.
His first basket for the new franchise came off a euro-step, one of many moves he is associated with.
.@JHarden13 Euro-steppin' for his first field goal as a Net ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/JH3MkE9KOB- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 16, 2021
Thus, given his track record and talent, nobody should have been surprised if the first points had come off a step-back 3 or by knocking down a couple at the charity stripe.
One game is a very small sample size but going by his debut, Harden's fit with the Nets seemed smooth.
Obviously, the Nets' on-court chemistry and understanding can and should improve with each game but for a Game 1, all seemed fairly in-sync.
Here's a couple of Harden dimes to illustrate what I'm talking about:
like...what? pic.twitter.com/KxJECn5V12- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2021
This pick and roll GOODNESS 😲@JHarden13 ➡️ @_R1bang_ pic.twitter.com/W0C6klFQv4- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2021
The Beard dished out 14 assists, a franchise record on debut, and his last dish was possibly the most impactful.
James Harden with a franchise record FOURTEEN assists in his Nets debut 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/2JEoSqGHuj- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2021
Take a look at how open KD is on that shot. That's Harden's biggest asset or contribution to the Nets - the eyeballs and attention he garners with the ball in his hands. Now imagine if other Nets sharpshooters like Harris, Kyrie Irving or Landry Shamet are also on the floor. It could make the Nets unguardable.
Not to mention, the damage Harden can make coming off that pick-and-roll even with all the help focused on his drive.
Finishing with 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds, Harden became the seventh player in NBA history to record a triple-double on team debut and the first player ever to record a 30-point triple-double in a debut for a new team.
32 POINTS- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2021
📼 The Beard's historic Brooklyn debut 📼 pic.twitter.com/HXghV2h6je
He also recorded four steals and owned a plus-minus of +7 in his 40 minutes of action.
Going off with KD
With the talent disparity, the Magic shouldn't have hung around all game, giving the Nets a tight contest. Nonetheless, Brooklyn turned it on in the second half, courtesy of their two superstars on the floor: Harden and Durant.
The duo combined for 50 of the team's 70 second-half points. Durant shot 11-of-15 from the field while Harden went to the free-throw line multiple times, going 11-of-13.
Most points scored in a player's first 10 games as a Net.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2021
Most points scored by a Net in his first 10 games of a season.
📼 | @KDTrey's first 40-piece as a Net pic.twitter.com/GI0rbGtptM
For the game, the duo scored or assisted on 107 of the team's 122 points - 87.7%
En route to his second-half scoring spree, Durant set a franchise record by scoring at least 25 points for the ninth straight game and became the first player in Nets history to score 20 or more through the first 10 games of the season.
Having Harden alongside him surely assisted in him going off for his season-high tally of 42 points on 16-of-26 shooting.
Turnovers and defence could use some work
It was a great debut, but there's work to be done. Alongside the rest of Harden's great box score were also his nine turnovers.
Although the Nets went off 122 points, shooting 42-of-78 from the field (53.8%) from the field, they also allowed 115 points - just marginally above their average of 113.1 points allowed, good for 22nd in the league.
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