NBA

Warriors’ Draymond Green says Nets are ‘definitely the team to beat’ in Eastern Conference

On Saturday night the Golden State Warriors witnessed firsthand just how overwhelming the Brooklyn Nets offense can be when it’s clicking, and it resulted in a 134-117 Nets win in Kevin Durant’s return to the Bay Area. The Warriors trailed by 13 at halftime, but a third-quarter onslaught by Brooklyn doubled the lead to 26 by the start of the fourth quarter, and the game was never close again.

It was just the seventh game in which Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have all played together, and they’ve won five of them — in one of the losses Durant only played 19 minutes before being removed for health and safety protocols. In 186 minutes together, the trio has an impressive offensive rating of 122.4 and a net rating of 8.4. The team’s defense and lack of size have been issues since acquiring Harden, however, which make some wonder whether they should be considered the favorites in the Eastern Conference, even with their star power.

The Nets have one proponent for that claim, and his name is Draymond Green. After Saturday’s loss, when asked how dangerous the Nets could be, Green gave some lofty praise.

“I think there are some other good teams in the East that poses a threat to them, but, they’re the team to beat in the East if you ask me,” Green said. “It’s my opinion. That doesn’t mean anything, but that’s my opinion, they’re definitely the team to beat in the East.”

Brooklyn moved to 16-12, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, after the win over the Warriors. The Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks are ahead of them, but there’s reason to believe that as Durant, Harden and Irving get more reps together and coach Steve Nash figures out his rotations and defensive strategy, the Nets are more than capable of finishing with the No. 1 seed and making a run to the Finals.

There were questions about how the three stars would fit together, but so far it seems to be working just fine. Harden has mostly taken on the facilitator role, averaging 11.6 assists in 14 games since being traded to Brooklyn. Meanwhile Durant has averaged 27.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists, and Irving has put up 27.9 points with 54-39-93 shooting splits with Harden on the roster.

There’s no guarantee that the Nets will advance to the Finals, but Green has played against a lot of talented offenses in his career. For him to anoint Brooklyn as the Eastern Conference favorite surely carries some weight.



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