With James Harden coping with a hamstring injury, each different Net has needed to choose up a number of the slack. Joe Harris has stepped up, and stepped proper into the Eastern Conference semifinal highlight.
Between the anticipated taking pictures and a few shocking protection, Harris has been so good that Blake Griffin proclaimed the Nets don’t simply have a Big 3. More like a Fantastic 4.
“Joe, I don’t consider him [lesser]. He’s one of the four,” Griffin mentioned of Harris, including “It seems like every shot he shoots is going in.”
It’s clearly hyperbole, nevertheless it most likely feels all too actual to Milwaukee.
The Bucks can’t afford to have Harris play effectively alongside even two of Brooklyn’s Big 3. And they most likely don’t have a path to victory if Harris retains getting the higher of All-Star Khris Middleton, as he did within the Nets’ Game 1 victory.
Harris entered Monday’s Game 2 third amongst all gamers this postseason in each 3-pointers (22) and 3-point share (.524), and fifth in plus-minus (+76). It’s by far his most prolonged playoff success.
Two years in the past, Harris received shut down by the 76ers, and final 12 months he began off sizzling however needed to go away the Bubble after simply two video games due to a household emergency.
But this time he excelled in opposition to Boston within the first spherical. And when Harden went down simply 43 seconds into the second sport, and Brooklyn wanted any person to choose up a few of that slack, Harris obliged.
“James is one of the best players in this league, but we’ve been in situations over the course of the regular season where we’ve been shorthanded, different lineups, different guys in and out,” Harris mentioned. “The whole philosophy doesn’t necessarily change. Trying to play the right way, play for each other, compete at a high level at both ends and try to put it together for a full 48.”
Having to cycle by way of a team-record 38 totally different beginning lineups has considerably braced the Nets for this. Though the lack of Harden didn’t change Harris’ standing as a starter, it has impacted his utilization charge, who he guards, who he performs alongside, and many others.
But at this level, he’s used to it.
“Yeah, definitely, because you never know what’s going to happen over the course of the playoffs,” Harris mentioned. “You see it year after year where different people have huge impacts being able to come in. And it might be the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th guy on the roster and you just never know what’s going to happen, what sort of situation presents itself. I think it’s just about staying ready.”
When the Nets referred to as on Harris within the wake of Harden’s injury, he was prepared.
Harris scored 19 factors on 7 of 11 taking pictures, and hit 5 of 9 from 3-point vary. He got here into Monday having made a number of 3s in all six playoff video games.
“When you swing the ball and Joe Harris is wide open, you can basically just walk down to the other side of the court,” Mike James mentioned.
It’s down on the opposite facet of the courtroom — the defensive finish — that Harris has made arguably his most sudden contribution. He spent most of Game 1 matched up on both Middleton or PJ Tucker, and outplayed each, underscored by a stable 98.7 Defensive Rating in Game 1.
Middleton is Milwaukee’s nearer, averaging 20.4 factors this season on 47.6 p.c taking pictures — 41.4 p.c from 3-point vary. But he completed with simply 13 on Saturday, held to six of 23 from the ground and lacking all 5 of his makes an attempt from deep.
The All-Star ahead was left with a wholesome respect for Harris.
“One of the differences is Joe has worked on his game a lot where he can put it down on the floor a couple of times for pull-ups or quick to the rim,” Middleton mentioned. “He’s a strong finisher also. He’s not just a 3-point shooter. He’s a very, very good 3-point shooter, but he also can do a lot of other things on the court, which helps them out a lot.”