This is going to be fun.
James Harden’s debut with the Brooklyn Nets could not have gone any better on Saturday night, becoming the first player in NBA history to drop a 30-point triple-double in his first game with a new team.
After the mega-trade last week that saw the Nets give away practically their entire future, Harden reunited with Kevin Durant and proceeded to drop 32 points with 14 assists and 12 rebounds in a 122-115 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Durant was also sterling with the guard he formerly spent three seasons alongside with the Oklahoma City Thunder nearly a decade ago, racking up 42 points.
While the Nets’ “Big 3” couldn’t be unveiled Saturday night because Kyrie Irving was still out — he’s missed the last six games — the dynamic duo of Harden and Durant looks as though it’ll be more than enough to keep Brooklyn toward the top of the conversation in the Eastern Conference.
“Man it was incredible,” Durant said about teaming up with Harden once again. “You could see him trying to figure out the best way to play. Early on I felt like we were all overpassing, trying to make everybody comfortable. Then he just got into his mode of being aggressive to score and that opened up the whole game for all of us.”
“I’m a hooper. I’m very unselfish,” Harden added after his big debut. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. And obviously, [Durant] is just an elite, different type of basketball player as far as the way he’s able to score. It’s so easy for him, and I know that. I just want to make it a little bit easier if I can. And for the rest of our teammates, our shooters, and our bigs, make it easier for them. So it was pretty easy out there.”
A matchup against the Magic provided an avenue for the Nets to ease Harden into, but Monday night brings a much stiffer test in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Of course, there is also the looming question of how the duo will play as a trio if Irving makes his way back to the squad.
On Friday, the controversial guard was fined $50,000 for attending a family party at a West Orange, NJ club while not wearing a mask — two direct violations of the NBA’s COVID protocols. Irving was forced to quarantine for five days by the NBA, forfeiting his salary for two games missed, which totaled $816,898.
As long as he continues testing negative, he’ll be eligible to return for Monday’s tilt against Milwaukee. However, the first five games of his six-game absence were attributed to personal reasons as speculation swirls about his morale in Brooklyn.