The Brooklyn Nets picked up their 46th win of the season on Wednesday night, beating the Spurs in comfortable fashion in a 128-116 victory to all but secure the 2-seed in the East. A win over a play-in team isn’t major news for a squad like the Nets, but Wednesday’s game was an important one as it saw the return of James Harden after missing 20 games with a hamstring strain.
As has seemingly been the case every time one of the Nets’ stars returns from an absence, Harden and the team as a whole didn’t miss a beat, as he came off the bench to score 18 points, dish out 11 assists, and pull down seven rebounds in 26 minutes on the court. Brooklyn is still waiting to get all of their stars together, as Kyrie Irving missed the Spurs game with a facial contusion, but seeing Harden looking like his normal self was a welcome sight for the Nets and their fans.
After the game, Harden was asked if he was surprised to be able to find his rhythm so quickly after a 20-game absence and offered a tremendous response.
James Harden wasn't surprised how quickly he was able to get back into the flow of things for the Nets:
"Not to brag or anything, but I'm really good at this game" pic.twitter.com/jVpDkh6X1g
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) May 13, 2021
“Not really. Not to brag or anything, but I’m, like, really good at this game,” Harden said. “I study the game, very unselfish. I take the game and I play it the right way every single night. So, I don’t try to do anything I can’t do or doesn’t benefit my team. That mindset right there keeps me in a really good place.”
It is an objective truth that James Harden is really good at basketball, so he definitely isn’t lying when he says that and what he’s talking about — staying within himself and playing his game — is a really good message to young players. It’s something all the Nets stars do and is part of why they are so successful in returning after absences, as Harden and KD and Kyrie all know themselves, their games, and how they need to play to help the team. They aren’t pressing to do too much after missing time and aren’t asked to do that in the way some stars are, and it’s part of the luxury of having three superstars but, even when others are out, they know how to excel without needing to try to expand their games beyond what they’re best at. It helps to have some of the best offensive games of any player in the league, because the comfort zone for someone like Harden is so big, but it’s a message that should resonate with guys even in smaller roles to be the best version of who you are at the moment. That will help yourself and your team more than trying to do too much, and the Nets are a good example of a team that does that well.