James Harden got traded to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday afternoon. How does this affect the Boston Celtics? Let’s look at how these two teams match up.
Here are the full details of the trade, which also included the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Brooklyn Nets completed their big three by adding Harden along with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant but gave up their depth and future in the process. It’s certainly a championship or bust season for them.
As their Atlantic Division rivals, how does this impact their matchup with the Boston Celtics?
With the losses of Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, the Nets’ starting lineup will likely look like this: Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan.
That defensive unit isn’t great. In fact, it’s pretty terrible.
Against the Boston Celtics specifically, Durant will be forced to guard Jayson Tatum, as they have no other options on the wing. Then, either Harden or Harris will have to start the game defending Jaylen Brown, with others shadowing Marcus Smart.
Finally, with a healthy Kemba Walker, Kyrie will be assigned with chasing him around the gym.
At the center spot, if the Cs end up going small with Grant Williams, DeAndre Jordan will become unplayable, assuming Williams can be respected from beyond the arc.
In this case, Brooklyn will have to counter with Jeff Green, who has suddenly become a very important piece for the championship contenders.
The Boston Celtics can also run the simple pick-and-roll with a traditional big man and involve Jordan in the action, who is not quick enough to jump with the likes of Robert Williams at the rim.
Every player on this Nets defense is exploitable by Boston’s firepower, and look for coach Brad Stevens to have a field day on offense in this particular matchup.
With this trade, the Nets have gone all-in on their offense.
Nobody will argue that they are the odds on favorite to have the best statistical offense in the league, despite having three superstars who want the ball. They can score from all over the floor, with Joe Harris getting open shots from deep as the fourth option.
So, how do the Boston Celtics attempt to defend them?
First, you have to stick Tatum on KD.
In terms of size and quickness, he’s the only player on the roster who has a chance of keeping up with him physically. No player in the league can completely stop the former MVP, but JT has a chance of making things difficult.
Then, you have to guard James Harden and Kyrie Irving with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown.
Although it might seem likely for Brown to shadow Harden due to his size advantage over Smart, the NBA All-Defensive guard has had success against the former Rocket before, especially in crucial situations.
He doesn’t shy away from the big assignments and might be a better option to try to limit Harden’s production.
As for Brown, he has the foot speed to try to keep up with Kyrie’s quick dribble and has often shown success guarding smaller players. Irving won’t try to physically overpower, which has been one of the weaknesses of Brown’s defense.
These matchups end up putting Kemba on Joe Harris, which will likely be a point of attack for the Nets. Walker is quick enough to chase the sniper around off-ball screens, but it will be interesting to see if he looks for more post-ups against the smaller guard.
So far this year, Harris has shot over 50 percent of his attempts from distance.
There’s no stopping this Nets offense, but with Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics have three of the best matchups in the league to attempt to slow them down.
It’ll would be fun to see these two teams face off come playoff time.