Brooklyn’s fast start on Friday night got a charge from Joe Harris, who made 4-of-5 3-pointers in the first half against the Celtics. Harris made two in the first five minutes, then another pair in the final minutes of the half as the Nets took an 18-point halftime lead.
Harris knocked down deep contested threes, mixed in a stepback, and pulled the trigger on early offense when the Nets found him in transition. He finished up with 14 points.
Kyrie Irving called Harris “a flamethrower,” and Caris LeVert said he’s basically surprised anytime a Harris jumper doesn’t go in.
“When you can have a guy that can create offense for you before you even draw up plays, before you even cross halfcourt, it feels like it’s always good to get some early offense, and Joe is great at when guys are trotting back to get the other side of the floor, he’s sprinting trying to find an open area, trying to get a good shot,” said Kevin Durant. “Some of those shots that he hit tonight, we’re gonna need him to hit more of those; like those tough, quick catch-and-shoot 3s. That might throw the defense off balance a bit, and sometimes he might miss some of those shots, they might look like bad ones, but we need him to continue to get those up and build that confidence because when we want to win big games, we’re gonna need Joe to hit some of those big shots.”
Harris didn’t get as many looks in the preseason opener against Washington, and during the week expressed that the Nets understand the offense will run through Irving and Durant. But his presence on the floor, the necessity for defenses to lock in on one of the NBA’s best shooters, will help keep space open for Irving and Durant to operate.
“We call it gravity,” said head coach Steve Nash. “The defense is always going to gravitate towards him, which opens up space for playmakers. Making shots, that’s even more deadly. He’s a shot-maker, an elite shooter. Shoots a high percentage, but even the nights he doesn’t make shots, he creates gravity for his teammates. But his pace is excellent. Plays at a fast pace, which allows our guys to, he makes the defense make quick decisions because he’s running around, coming off screens, getting rid of the ball quickly, and then willing to shoot quick shots. I think it’s a great weapon for us and we’re lucky to have a guy with his shooting ability.”