Nets Star James Harden Voices Surprising Take After Loss to Celtics

James Harden believes loss was good for Nets

Getty James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket past Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics during Game Three of the Eastern Conference first round series.

Believe it or not, the Boston Celtics are back in the series. Thanks to the historic efforts of Jayson Tatum, the C’s notched their first win over the Nets this season, a 125-119 victory. In return, they cut Brooklyn’s series lead to 2-1 with a Sunday showdown looming in TD Garden.

Tatum dropped 50 points on the night, becoming the third-youngest player in NBA playoff history to accomplish such a feat, while simultaneously pumping some much-needed life back into a series that seemed all but over for Boston just hours prior. While many had already prematurely punched Brooklyn’s tickets to the second round, the Celtics remain self-aware of the uphill battle they have on their hands.

“We’re going up against a juggernaut of a team,” Marcus Smart admitted following the win. “Like I said before, the world knows it. We know it. It ain’t gonna be easy.”

Things will be especially un-easy if the loss has the type of positive effect James Harden expects it to have on his Nets.

“As much as we don’t want to lose, this is probably what’s good for us,” Harden told reporters, via ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “Game 2 we played so well. It’s a reminder that things aren’t going to be so easy.”

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Celtics Claw Back From Early Deficit

Tatum’s brilliant showing overshadowed a marvelous outing by Harden, who became the first player in Nets franchise history to record 40 points and 10 assists (per StatMuse). The former league MVP knocked down 7-of-10 3-point attempts en route to a 41 point output to go along with 10 assists, and seven rebounds in Game 3. He’s now averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 assists and 8.0 rebounds in the series.

Harden wasn’t the only Nets star to deliver on the night, he, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combined for 96 points in the contest, including 60 points in the second half. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome Boston’s 29-13 run to close out the first quarter — this after the C’s originally fell behind 19-4 to start the game.

“I think they were a little desperate and became the aggressor after our hot start,” said Nets coach Steve Nash of the Celtics. “They were the ones looking to drive the ball and they were the ones looking to step in with 3s. They got themselves going, took the momentum, got the crowd going and started feeling confidence for the first time in three games.”

Smart Talks Celtics Resilience; Tristan Thompson Eager for Game 4

Smart essentially echoed Nash’s comments following the game, emphasizing the need for his Celtics to keep their foot on the pedal through the team’s early rough spell.

“Things weren’t going our way early, and usually we let that snowball,” Smart said. “Tonight we just tried to stay as positive as we could and keep our foot on the gas pedal. No matter what the outcome was, we had to be willing to fight, sacrifice our body, and it’s gonna take everybody on the court and everybody that came in.”

Boston will look to even the series at two games apiece on Sunday, as they embark on their first near-capacity packed home game in over a year.

“I’m just excited for Sunday,” big-man Tristan Thompson proclaimed. “We’re gonna need the fans rockin’. We need to blow this [expletive] roof off, that’s what we need. We need that energy.”


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