Big Three Closes Out Wire-to-Wire Win Over Heat

B+

Final: 01/23/2021

W 128 – 124

Screenshot via YES Network

Saturday night was a test for Brooklyn’s resilience, and the team rose to the occasion.

With Miami missing key pieces, the Nets rode the hot hands of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris en route to a 128-124 home victory. The win brings the team to 10-8 on the season.

Right away, the Nets showed progress with a lift in energy and defensive intensity. Brooklyn out-rebounded the Heat 50-45, featuring a 9-2 advantage in offensive boards. 

The hustle was evident for Brooklyn after dropping two straight games to the Cavaliers, but the game was not without its challenges. After a largely quiet three quarters, Miami applied pressure late by opening the fourth quarter with a 13-0 run and had chances to take the lead, cutting the deficit to as little as one.

Despite a hectic final minute that saw the Heat threaten with a barrage of three-pointers and free throws, Brooklyn stayed afloat as Kyrie Irving came alive for 18 fourth-quarter points and the Big Three closed things out.

Harris was responsible for setting the tone on the night with back-to-back three-pointers to start the game, just two of his seven from distance. The quick start allowed the Nets to lead wire-to-wire against a Heat team that was missing Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard.

The Nets led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter when their offense was firing on all cylinders. James Harden had just two made field goals, instead leading a share-first mentality for Brooklyn as the team posted a season-high 34 assists on 44 made field goals.

An effect of the Nets ball-movement, though, was a familiar weakness — turnovers. The Heat scored 22 points off 17 Brooklyn turnovers, helping keep the game close down the stretch.

This was an undermanned Heat team, but the Nets showed progress in areas that have ailed them: defense and rebounding. Brooklyn continued its hot offense, shooting 53.7% from the field and 19-of-37 from three, and seemed to communicate better in coverage.

While the team seemed to find a good groove by putting Joe Harris into the starting rotation alongside the Big Three, the bench struggled at times to maintain the lead. Still, the second group added 26 points and a key rebounding presence. 

Bam Adebayo almost single-handedly powered the Heat’s fourth-quarter surge, totaling 41 points and nine rebounds on the night. Goran Dragic added 19 points while Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn had 18 apiece.

Next up, the Nets have a day off before playing Miami (again). Bringing this same effort on Monday would a nice bounce-back from the team’s back-to-back losses to Cleveland and, more importantly, a step in the right direction for consistency. 

Kevin Durant

A

The stats: 31 PTS, 11-19 FG, 4-7 3PT, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 BLK, 4 TO, 37 MIN

The Nets missed KD on Friday, and the rest seemed to do him well.

30-point games are pretty much automatic from KD, but his ability to go to an extra gear in the second half is truly valuable. Joe Harris was the leading contributor in the first half, but KD supplied 20 second-half points as he pulled up from three and got to his spots.

Durant was a bit sloppy with the ball with four turnovers, but his chemistry continues to improve, especially alongside Kyrie and Harden down the stretch. Oh, and he passed Robert Parish to move into 27th place on the NBA all-time scoring list. Just another day in the office. 

Kyrie Irving

A

The stats: 28 PTS, 10-17 FG, 3-5 3PT, 5-6 FT, 6 REB, 7 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 36 MIN

It is truly a treat to watch Kyrie Irving take over a game.

Though he was largely quiet through the first three quarters, making a difference defensively, Kyrie was all business down the stretch in closing out the victory. He put up 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, confidently making plays while dishing seven assists and taking care of the ball.

Kyrie again took more of a scoring-first approach than Harden, and it seemed to work out this time. Kyrie’s basketball IQ was on display in knowing when to turn up his contributions vs. helping run an unselfish offense prior. 

Joe Harris

A

The stats: 23 PTS, 8-14 FG, 7-12 3PT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 37 MIN

Joe “Flame-Thrower” Harris.

After scoring in single digits in two straight games, Joe lit the game up in a big way with two three-pointers off the bat and six in the first half. He had just one three-pointer in the second half, but the Nets did not necessarily need more with KD and Kyrie heating up.

This was Joe’s first time starting alongside the Big Three, and he is clearly benefitting from the attention his teammates are getting. A wide-open Joe is a happy Joe, and we will sign on for 14 field goal attempts from him any night.

James Harden

B+

The stats: 12 PTS, 2-8 FG, 0-5 3PT, 7 REB, 11 AST, 6 TO, 38 MIN

Who is this man and what have you done with James Harden? You know, the one that attempts 30 shots per game?

Harden has limited his shot attempts since Kyrie’s return, this time attempting his fewest shots since 2017. This has allowed Harden to focus on distribution, and while the ball movement was great on Saturday, Harden still had six turnovers — which could have been costly down the stretch.

There is still room for Harden to be more aggressive offensively, but Irving came alive in the fourth, which took away the need for Harden to come up with a big shot. Harden had a big impact on the defensive end too by making a heads-up decision on fouling Bam Adebayo down the stretch with a one-possession lead. 

It is also good to see Harden start to form chemistry with players such as DeAndre Jordan, who had a good bounceback game in his own right and helped grab more boards.

Jeff Green

A-

The stats: 11 PT, 4-8 FG, 3-4 3PT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO, 26 MIN

Jeff Green has been the ultimate sneaky X-factor.

Green has been clutch offensively and is among the hottest three-point shooters in the NBA in this recent stretch. Having an extra player who can be relied on to knock down a shot is huge for Brooklyn, especially if Green continues to come off the bench.

You have to love the energy on defense, too.  

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