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James Harden rightfully puts skeptics on blast as Brooklyn Nets prepare for NBA Playoffs

Vincent Frank

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Despite playing a mere 36 games with the Brooklyn Nets after an early-season blockbuster trade, star guard James Harden proved to be among the most valuable players in the NBA.

Harden, 31, looks to keep this up as Brooklyn begins its title push Saturday against an undermanned Boston Celtics squad in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Harden appeared in just two games over the final month of the regular season due to continued hamstring issues. He scored a total of 23 points in less than 51 minutes during that two-game span.

That lack of scoring is obviously the antithesis of what we’ve seen from Harden during his Hall of Fame-worthy career. He was also asked about it by reporters during a Q&A session on Wednesday. To say that the former NBA MVP was having none of it would be an understatement.

“I thought winning was all that matters?” James Harden said, via ESPN. “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.”

James Harden is 100% correct in calling out critics

This is such a drawn-out narrative. When his former Houston Rockets team were struggling as Harden casually dropped 40 points on a nightly basis, critics attacked him for “stat-filling.” Now that the Brooklyn Nets head into the NBA Playoffs as odds-on title favorites, his lack of scoring is suddenly an issue?

Here’s the reality of the situation, and it will have Harden naysayers running for the hills quicker than those who assumed the Rockets would be fine without him.

Brooklyn was 29-7 in games Harden played in during the regular season. He averaged 24.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10.9 assists on a 10-year best 47% shooting from the field. In games Harden didn’t play during the regular year, the Nets went 19-17.

James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
Mar 31, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets shooting guard James Harden (13) warms up before the game against the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets? Well, they were historically bad after Harden played his final game with the team on January 12. How bad? Houston ended the regular season 15-49 in games Harden didn’t play — including a 6-45 record in its final 51 outings and a 20-game losing streak.

Math is a crazy thing. It can throw narratives out the window in one-fell swoop. Now, James Harden is out to prove these narratives and his skeptics wrong.

Let’s not bet against him.