It’s go time for the Brooklyn Nets’ journey to an NBA championship. The team has been championship favorites throughout the season, and now it’s time to put their status to the test in the NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics.

As head coach Steve Nash is having his first taste of the playoffs on the sidelines, the interesting factor is how he will utilize his lineups and who will be on the floor in crunch time.

The Nets have had a terrific season from the beginning. After defeating teams in the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics their first few games, the team showed that they could compete with anyone. Then the James Harden trade happened, which elevated their chances of a championship magnificently. Garden’s chemistry with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving dates back to both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Team USA in 2014. His time in Houston was over and he wanted to be in a better position to make a run in the NBA Finals.

Despite the Nets’ big three only playing eight games together, Brooklyn still managed to be the second seed in the East at 48-24. While one or two of the star players were out, the one available placed the team on his back and delivered. The beauty of the Nets roster is that they have players who understand their role with the team and contribute tremendously.

Brooklyn will face the Boston Celtics in the first round. A team who is coming off of a major win in the play-in tournament over the Washington Wizards, they have energy and momentum heading into game one. The biggest factor for the Nets is containing the offense of Jayson Tatum and limiting his opportunities to score. Throughout this season, Tatum has had multiple 50+ point games, which lifted the Celtics in each victory. The Nets will allow other Celtic players to beat them offensively, which can give them a better chance of winning the series.

The Nets’ X-factor: James Harden

The Nets have plenty of factors that can contribute to winning the first round. But no one’s impact will be more important than James Harden’s. After being sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Harden has had time to heal and prepare his body for the postseason. Harden’s versatility will be a huge factor in the first round. His potential top-notch performances can carry over through the rest of the postseason, uplifting the Nets en route to the NBA Finals.

Through the regular season, Harden’ displayed great decision-making with the basketball-playing the point guard role. While allowing Durant and Irving to be the scoring threat, Harden facilitated the ball by placing teammates in great positions.

Before his hamstring injury, numerous insiders were claiming Harden to be the MVP. He was averaging 25 points and 11 assists before being sidelined. His ability to run the show with the absence of his two co-stars led to some great basketball from Brooklyn. Because of that, the team kept afloat and remained one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.

As Harden continues to be the play-maker for the team, his scoring will follow. Earlier in the season, Kyrie Irving already expressed that Harden was better off playing the point guard position. Going into the playoffs, the Nets seem to understand what their approach will be going into the first game. It’s all about sticking to their X’s and O’s to get past each series.

Russell Westbrook Scott Brooks Wizards

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