There have been 4 Brooklyn Nets gamers this season to attain no less than 40 factors this season: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Cameron Thomas and now Mikal Bridges. In a 116-105 win over the Miami Heat Wednesday night time, Bridges dropped a career-high 45 factors to indicate precisely why the Nets coveted him a lot within the blockbuster deal that despatched Durant to Phoenix.
The effectivity with which Bridges acquired his 45 factors is what stands out probably the most, in that he shot 70.8 % from the sector and 66.7 % from 3-point territory. He additionally tacked on eight rebounds, 5 assists, two steals and two blocks. That statline makes Bridges simply the second participant in Nets historical past to place up no less than 45 factors, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, two steals and two blocks. The different participant to do it? Durant.
It’s ironic that Bridges joins Durant in posting that elite statline, given he was the participant Brooklyn coveted probably the most from Phoenix within the commerce that despatched Okay.D. to the Valley of the Sun. It was reported that excluding Bridges from any commerce package deal for Durant was a nonstarter for the Nets, and Wednesday night time confirmed precisely why.
In Phoenix we noticed somewhat little bit of Bridges’ playmaking potential and scoring off the bounce, however on a crew that featured two All-Star skills in Devin Booker and Chris Paul he was primarily used as a spot-up shooter and lockdown defender. Against the Heat, we noticed him put the ball on the deck an entire lot extra, exhibiting the potential of what his sport might be going ahead. He acquired to his spots within the midrange with ease, getting off his silky jumper, and he confirmed off his environment friendly vary from deep, too.
The great thing about Bridges’ sport is he might be efficient on offense with or with out the ball in his arms, which is helpful when enjoying alongside Ben Simmons who wants the rock to be a risk. Just take a look at this seamless play the place Bridges instantly drives towards the rim as quickly as Simmons feeds him the ball. He did not even take a dribble, and managed to drag off a troublesome layup that resulted in an and-1 alternative.
Or how about this possession the place he confirmed no concern in taking it straight at Jimmy Butler 1-on-1 and transformed this tough floater:
That’s top-of-the-line perimeter defenders, and a five-time All-Defensive participant that Bridges goes towards in Butler, however he does not draw back from the problem in any respect.
It wasn’t simply the scoring that made this efficiency stand out. Bridges’ protection was a spotlight, too. That should not be stunning given he is an All-Defensive participant, and has been celebrated for his effort on that finish of the ground since he entered the league. But whenever you put that side-by-side with the offensive efficiency he had, it elevates the lockdown protection to a different stage.
In the three video games since being traded to the Nets, Bridges is averaging 25 factors, 6.3 rebounds and three.0 assists. It’s a small pattern measurement, but it surely highlights why Brooklyn needed Bridges within the Durant deal, and why they refused to commerce him to a different contender forward of the deadline regardless of the infinite quantity of curiosity he drew from across the league. He’s an distinctive two-way participant who is usually a key constructing block in Brooklyn’s sudden rebuild, and if the Nets do resolve to maneuver off of Bridges within the offseason, then the worth simply went up after Wednesday’s efficiency.
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