Last weekend, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had scored 42 and 39 points respectively. But James Harden overshadowed both these performances.
The Brooklyn Nets might well be offensively the most gifted team in NBA playoffs history. You would’ve thought this was an exaggeration, but their play in 4 games thus far has proved it. How do you guard a team that hasn’t dropped less than 104 points in 4 games?
The Celtics have done their absolute best to try and keep up with the Nets’ offense. That has been their only choice thus far, because guarding 3 legendary iso players like KD, Harden and Kyrie Irving through 4 quarters does not seem humanly possible.
Never was this more apparent than Game 4 of their ongoing first round series with the Boston Celtics. The shamrock green brigade absolutely threw the kitchen sink at Brooklyn. They even held a 1-point lead after 1 quarter, standing at 34-33.
But the way that James Harden systematically diced up the Celtics on the way to 23 points and 18 assists on the night was offensive control that truly belongs to a class of its own.
NBA fans react to James Harden setting record with 18 assists
Harden has clearly been the point guard for the Nets ever since his trade to Brooklyn. But reputed stat website Stat Muse lists Harden as a shooting guard for his appearance in Game 4.
This apparently means that the Beard holds the playoff record for most assists by a shooting guard. They didn’t release a tweet to that effect, but their article with the infographic says so.
James Harden is the first Nets player with a 20p/15a playoff game in franchise history.
18 AST (2nd most in Nets history)
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 31, 2021
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This has prompted a discussion on Reddit regarding the validity of the listing. It is pretty clear that Harden is the point guard for the Nets. Steve Nash routinely runs out lineups consisting of Harden, a big man or Jeff Green and 3 shooters while keeping Kyrie and KD on the bench simultaneously.
Even when the trio are on the floor together, Harden seems to initiate the most offensive moves from the eye test. It wouldn’t go remiss for Stat Muse to recategorize the Beard as a point guard for this particular game.