Brooklyn Nets star James Harden dismissed any concerns about a lackluster finish to his regular season as the team prepares for the 2021 NBA playoffs.
"I thought winning was all that matters?" Harden said to reporters. "When I was doing the stats and putting up the numbers, it wasn't good enough. So, at some point we've gotta figure out what we're talking about. But it's all about winning."
The skepticism—if you can call it that—directed toward Harden isn't necessarily a critique of the players, but instead it's a reflection of how little Brooklyn's three best stars played with one another.
According to NBA.com, the trio of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving logged a total of 202 minutes over eight games with one another. A hamstring injury to Harden limited him to three appearances in April and May, and he put up 23 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds during those outings.
To his point, though, Brooklyn closed the season on a five-game winning streak and went 15-9 over the final two months.
Perhaps the lack of continuity won't be a problem in the postseason. That did prove to be a problem for the Los Angeles Clippers one season ago, but there had been some warning signs before their collapse.
FanDuel lists Brooklyn as the championship favorite at +210 (bet $100 to win $210), with a +105 moneyline to claim the Eastern Conference crown.
The Nets have avoided that sort of drama so far, but the narrative around the franchise will undoubtedly shift if it suffers an earlier exit than expected.
Must be 21+ and present in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, West Virginia, Colorado or Tennessee. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. See sportsbook.fanduel.com for details.