Houston Rockets’ James Harden (13) shoots as Brooklyn Nets’ Treveon Graham (21) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
You must have heard Brooklyn Nets put James Harden 58 point production to waste in Houston Rockets 142-145 loss to the Nets.

Losing the game was bad, losing at the Toyota Center was worse but letting another record night for the Beard go down the drain was the worst thing to happen to Houston.

Thanks to Los Angeles Lakers mediocre form without LeBron James and Utah Jazz’s recovery after a terrible start to the season, Houston’s improved form over the past month should keep them just about in the upper half of the playoff standings in the Western Conference despite injuries to Chris Paul and Clint Capela.

Last season’s Most Valuable Player Award winner Harden has been instrumental in the team’s dramatic run over the past month as the combo Guard is averaging 40 points during the month long stretch. Nets Guard Spencer Dinwiddie upstaged Harden in the final moments when it mattered most bringing up another instance Harden has failed to deliver in key stages like those in the playoffs.

Though Brooklyn was an Austin Rivers uncontested three point shot away from the loss that would have prevented the team from moving to sixth place. With 23 wins and 23 losses, Brooklyn is ahead of the inconsistent Miami Heat and a disappointing Charlotte Hornets team not cashing in on Kemba Walker’s best season yet in the NBA.

At this pace, Brooklyn will feature in its first playoffs since 2015.

That doesn’t sound as a major accomplishment considering Minnesota Timberwolves played in last year’s playoffs after a 14 year absence from the postseason. Such perceptions change when one looks at the low depths Brooklyn were in after making a big splash in free agency. Ironically the team Brooklyn spent its fortunes on to move up to battle for an NBA title, is the same team Brooklyn is mimicking in its climb up the conference standings.

Jul 18, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; From left Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry during a press conference to introduce them as the newest members of the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-136542 ORIG FILE ID: 20130718_jla_aw8_372.jpg

Sensing the elite group run its course, Celtics agreed to trade Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn for a host of draft picks that turned into Jaylen Brown, James Young and Jayson Tatum. While Young’s career didn’t work out as many expected, Brown and Tatum give Celtics its future wing combo for a decade.

Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (0) and Jaylen Brown (7) celebrate after Tatum scored during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in New York. The Celtics won 109-102. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Trading for Kyrie Irving was made possible thanks to the top 10 pick Boston added which Cleveland Cavaliers used to pick Collin Sexton in last year’s Draft. Boston sank to the basement of the league with Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans and Marshon Brooks running alongside Rajon Rondo and newly acquired Coach Brad Stevens on the sidelines.

Fast forward five seasons and Boston Celtics are coming off a season that ended a game short of making it to the NBA Finals. Its biggest assets, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, did not even feature in the playoffs and Hayward missed the entire season to a broken leg and ankle.

In Brooklyn, the Nets had 21, 20 and 28 wins seasons after the trade turned out disappointingly but with just over half of the season left to play, the team is just five wins from equaling its best season in the post mega trade era.

BROOKLYN, NY – JUNE 26: Sean Marks, GM of the Brooklyn Nets, introduces D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov during a press conference on June 26, 2017 at HSS Training Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Key to this success is Coach Kenny Atkinson and General Manager Sean Marks who have embraced a system over player structure while picking up shrewd pieces and drafting well despite having low picks like Boston a few season back. Hero in Houston Dinwiddie was a 38th pick in the 2014 Draft and had spent a season in the Gatorade League with Windy City Bulls.


Shooting Guard Joe Harris was the 33rd pick in the same draft class. Rodions Kurucs was the 40th pick in last year’s draft and registered 14 points and five rebounds against Houston while averaging 9.5 points in 20 minutes per game in his rookie season.

Dec 20, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Nets 116-104. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Blocking sensation Jarred Allen was drafted 22nd in last year’s draft too and the best thing going on for Brooklyn is its wins despite playing without best player Caris LeVert. Boston sure did put in its fair share of reclaiming lost projects such as Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner just like what Brooklyn is doing now with D’Angelo Russell and Shabazz Napier.

An unexpected playoff run is within reach this season but beyond this season, Brooklyn Nets will be equipped with cap space to sign top tier free agents and morph into real contenders like Boston is. Nobody expects Celtics to falter along the way before the Eastern Conference Finals and judging by what we are witnessing, Brooklyn Nets are ahead of schedule and set bounce into the big time.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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