With Kyrie Irving’s history with Boston, all eyes were naturally on him in Tuesday’s Game 5. But Brooklyn’s other superstar guard stole the show.
James Harden (34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) put on a masterclass, the first 30-point triple-double in Nets playoff history. He’s only the second player in this year’s postseason with one, after Dallas superstar Luka Doncic.
It also marked Harden’s fourth career playoff triple-double, and the 11th in Nets history. The other 10 all belonged to Jason Kidd.
“J-Kidd is one of them ones. He’s one of the elite point guards that this league has ever seen obviously with his playmaking ability,” Harden said after the Nets’ 123-109 series-clinching win over the Celtics. “He’s a big guard. He just did so many things at the time in New Jersey that us young guys looked at. So shoutout to J-Kidd.
“I just came here to make an impact on the game, whether it’s scoring, whether it’s rebounding, whether it’s my ability to pass the basketball, whatever the case may be. Every game is a little bit different, but I just take what the defense gives me and I play basketball. I try to play basketball the right way each possession.”
Kevin Durant praised not just Harden’s passing, but his persona and the impact it’s had on the team.
“He’s a willing passer. He’s looking to pass, he’s looking to get guys shots,” Durant said. “And his energy. I mean, he comes into the gym every day and it’s just excitement to play basketball and somebody that loves to play so much that you know, that the energy is infectious.”
The Nets have advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the eighth time, and first since 2014.
Jeff Green (left plantar fascia strain), Alize Johnson (left ankle sprain) and Spencer Dinwiddie (right ACL) were all out.
“No update on Jeff,” Steve Nash said.
“I believe he’s progressing well but it’s not one of those things where we have an update but things are positive, are moving in a positive direction.”
LaMarcus Aldridge spoke to The Athletic about how depressed he’s been since a heart condition forced him to retire, and how he’s convinced he could have earned a ring in Brooklyn.
“That was the hardest part,” Aldridge said. “It was a chance for me to make that next step, a chance for me to add to my legacy and see what it feels like.
“I felt if I stayed with the group, we definitely could get to the Finals and do something special,” Aldridge said. “Those guys rooted for me just as much as I rooted for them. That’s what makes the game fun. When you have a bunch of guys with no egos and everyone’s cheering for each other to do well.”
Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams (left ankle sprain) and Kemba Walker (left knee) were all out for Boston.
The Empire State Building lit up its tower in black and white on Tuesday to celebrate the game.