After spending Thanksgiving Day with family and friends, the Nets will enter their showdown with Phoenix on Saturday atop the Eastern Conference, having won 12 of their last 14 games.
These white-hot suns? The NBA finalists snatched 14 in a row, with just one game Friday against the Knicks preventing a 15-game streak in a row at Barclays Center. They are as difficult a test as the Nets, coming out of a laugh in Boston which was their most complete performance of the season, could face.
“Yeah absolutely.… And we can continue to build on that,” said James Harden. “We’re going home, we’ve got the Suns who obviously we all know how they played. It’ll be another big test. But we have to keep improving, keep growing, find things that work, find things that don’t work on both sides and keep pushing.
Devin Booker is averaging 23.1 points and Chris Paul averaging 10.4 assists for the Suns, so Saturday will be a test for the Nets. Don’t just call it a measuring stick.
Win or lose is a narrative the Nets have pushed back against.
“Measuring stick for whom?” For all of you ? Not for us, ”Harden mocked. “If anyone sees Saturday as a decisive game, it’s not the Nets.
” Nope. It’s 20 games in the season. It is not a measuring stick. We are always trying to find ourselves and our identity. We don’t measure – we let you all, the media, blow it all up and talk about it. It doesn’t give you more wins or more losses.
“Obviously we want to play well, but we want to play well in every game. … They all count for the same thing. For us, we focus on ourselves and improve ourselves, and that’s all we can control.
The Nets (14-5) believe they have improved since the last so-called measuring stick game on Nov. 16 against league-leading Golden State. That night the Nets took a 117-99 caning from the Warriors and frankly the final score flattered them. It wasn’t that close.
Now, having won four straight wins since, the Nets have improved. The Suns (15-3) offer a golden opportunity to determine if these improvements have been maintained.
“We measure every day. We assess who you are every day, ”said Kevin Durant. “We understand that these teams are coming and the teams are playing well. But it’s November. Every team wants to be round [into] form. … I am not saying that we want to give away games. But to win or lose, I don’t really think that will tell us much about the direction we are taking as a team.
“We obviously want to go out and stick to our principles and keep improving in this area. From the outside I understand the recordings and narratives around the games and stuff, but I don’t think that can tell us too much about what can happen later.
Bruce Brown (hamstring) is expected to return for the Nets on Saturday. … Kevin Durant – who grew up in Prince George County (Md.) – helps renovate the old Baltimore Bullets arena.
YES Network will air the second half of an interview with Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai on Saturday’s pre-game show.