Atlantic Notes: Harden, Sharpe, Rivers, Celtics


January 23rd 2022 at 11:00am CST by Arthur Hill

James Harden believes the lingering effects of last year’s hamstring injury are gone and he’s ready to play at an MVP level again, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Harden was dominant Friday in the Nets‘ win over the Spurs, putting up 37 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds along with a highlight dunk that should calm any fears about his explosiveness.

Brooklyn will need those type of performances to remain in contention for the top spot in the East with Kevin Durant likely sidelined until after the All-Star break with a sprained left knee and Kyrie Irving limited to road games because of New York City’s vaccine requirement. Harden feels ready to lead the team while it’s short-handed.

“Yeah, I’m definitely back,” he said. “It’s just throughout the course of the year we had so much going on (with) our team. A lot of injuries and whatnot, and obviously the situation with Kyrie, so it’s really difficult to get a rhythm like we all want to. But we just got to continue to fight, continue to take one game at a time and push through it. Eventually this thing is going to come together where we’re all together and we all make a really, really huge run at this thing.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have found their most effective center combination with rookie Day’Ron Sharpe starting and LaMarcus Aldridge as his primary backup, Lewis notes in a separate story. “I thought (Sharpe) did some great things,” coach Steve Nash said Friday, “got 10 rebounds and was a good screener-and-roller. Looked a little bit tired at times and then (Aldridge) was super-solid making shots and a big night for him coming back.”
  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers snapped at a reporter who questioned his coaching tactics after the team let a 24-point lead get away in Friday’s loss to the Clippers, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. When asked how much his coaching decisions contributed to the defeat, Rivers responded, “Would you ask (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) that question? No you wouldn’t. So don’t ask me that question. I’ve earned that.”
  • The Celtics need to abandon their lineup that has Robert Williams and Al Horford playing together, argues Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Boston had a minus-31 rating in the 15 minutes that Williams and Horford shared the court in Friday’s loss to Portland.
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