For the second time in January, a member of the Brooklyn Nets has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. On Monday, the NBA announced that Nets guard James Harden won the award after Kevin Durant won the award for the week of January 11-17. It is Harden’s first time winning the award in the East although he has won the award several times in the Western Conference.
On the week, the eight-time all-star averaged 25.3 points, 11.3 assists, and 7.3 rebounds including a 31-point, 15 assist outing in a win over the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets were 3-1 on the week. Harden did not play in the lone loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to a left thigh contusion. Nets head coach Steve Nash does not expect the 2018 Most Valuable Player to be sidelined for long.
Steve Nash Doesn’t Expect Harden To Be Out for Long
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s too severe. I think it’s pretty manageable, but just a precautionary measure not to get it banged again and make it severe,” Nash said to the New York Post. “So I don’t remember exactly when it happened. But hopefully, it’s just this game.”
According to Stat Muse, since trading for Harden, the Nets have an offensive rating of 122.6 which is the best in the NBA. Brooklyn is on pace to have the best offensive rating in NBA history. As great as a scorer as Harden is, Nash knows that he is capable of much more than just scoring buckets. He is the main catalyst of the Nets offense.
“Yeah, it is a big hole to fill with all the things he does on the floor, he’s a triple-double threat every night. Some nights he can score the ball, some nights he can run the show, and some nights he does both,” said Nash.
Nets Have a Big Test Coming up Against the Clippers
The Nets will look to get back in the win column on Tuesday when they take on two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers who currently have the best record in the league. Nash and the Nets hope to have Harden back in the lineup for the blockbuster matchup. “It’s great to have a personality. He gives our group some juice, energy, and life; it’s important,” Nash said. “And then he has a reputation of playing extremely hard, defending, doing the dirty work so, that’s always positive to bring someone who’s got a lot of fight and competitive spirit.”
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Before Sunday’s crushing defeat to the Washington Wizards, the Nets looked to be putting all the pieces together. Before the Harden trade, the Nets were struggling to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Coming into Sunday’s matchup against the Wizards the Nets had won four games in a row and they now sit at second place in the east. While the Nets do have impressive wins against the Celtics and Sixers this season, that was before Harden’s arrival. Now that they pretty much have a brand-new roster this matchup with the Clippers will be the new-look Nets’ first real test. Hopefully, they can go into the game with a fully loaded roster.