James Harden Finding Needed Rhythm For Nets As Of Late

Brooklyn Nets, James Harden, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

The Brooklyn Nets have found their stride in recent weeks. After beginning the NBA season 2-3, they have won 11 out of their last 13 games. They are on a three-game winning streak as they head into a matchup tonight with another team turning things around in the Boston Celtics.

For the Nets, they had to make unexpected changes to their lineup at the onset of the season. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has opted to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning he is ineligible for games at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden.

Not wanting a part-time player on the team, the Nets decided that they would hold Irving out until he was eligible to be full-time. Removing Irving from the equation helped avoid all the distractions that would have come with it, but Steve Nash was left trying to figure out how he would replace someone as integral to the team’s success on the court as Irving is.

Without Irving, there would be even more pressure placed on the shoulders of Kevin Durant and James Harden to carry the load. Durant has lived up to the pressure, playing at an MVP level. Harden, however, struggled out of the gate.

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Part of Harden’s struggles can be attributed to the NBA’s rule changes in the offseason. Looking to cut down on non-basketball moves being rewarded with fouls, referees were told to put more of an emphasis on not blowing the whistles on such calls.

Harden has become a master at deceiving referees into thinking he was being fouled. With the rule adjustments, he was not finding the same success early on and it was knocking him off his game.

However, all the best players readjust. Harden said he would not change how he played and would eventually find his groove. He was right, as the former MVP has looked a lot more like himself recently.

Over his last 10 games, he has found his stride. James Harden is averaging 22.8 points and 9.2 assists per game and the Nets are 8-2 over that stretch.

James Harden is averaging 8.5 free throw attempts per game over his last 10, which is much closer to the numbers we have gotten accustomed to seeing from him. Through the first eight games of the season, Harden averaged only 4.75 free throws per game and 19 of them came in a single game against the Indiana Pacers.

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Finding his groove again offensively will help get the Nets back on track, as they have become very reliant on mid-range and 3-point shooting to carry the offense. With Harden back, finding success in attack mode, the Nets will be that much tougher to beat on a given night.