James Harden has only played a handful of seconds in this series, and Kyrie Irving compounded matters with an ankle injury sustained in Game 4.
Kevin Durant is going to try everything possible to take home another victory against Milwaukee, but Harden appears to be trying to work his way back…despite the advice of the medical community.
Harden has been upgraded to doubtful to play in Game 5 despite the fact that he is trying to work his way back from an injury that sidelined him for a good chunk of the regular season. Ignoring the semantics, doctors think that Harden is still weeks from being healthy.
Dr. Jesse Morse took to Twitter on Tuesday to project Harden as just 5% better despite his week off, claiming that when multiple hamstring tissue injuries like this are sustained one after another, the patient often needs 4-6 weeks before they are fully healed.
Clearly, the allure of a ring is weighing heavily on Harden without Irving to help pick up the slack. Sources say this is unwise.
Nets: When is James Harden coming back?
Harden has long been one of the most durable players in the game, but his hamstring has been one problem that he hasn’t been able to shake. In fact, when Harden tried to return from his hamstring problem earlier in the season against the New York Knicks, he played just four minutes before a re-aggravation ended his day.
Not only is this injury frustrating for a player that has the best chance he’s ever had in his career at a championship, but it’s even tougher to deal with when you consider he’s long been one of the most dependable players in the game. Suddenly, he’s unable to stay on the floor for any length of time.
Harden has quickly become the straw that stirs this Nets drink. Durant might be the best player on this team, but Harden has the ball in his hands the most, and it’s his trademark drives to the lane and kick outs to the perimeter that have this team really operating at peak efficiency.
The Nets clearly don’t want to lean on players like Bruce Brown and Joe Harris to provide offense, and the former struggled in the fourth quarter of Game 3 and the latter was unable to hit the broad side of a barn in Game 4. As rough as it may be to hear, the Nets may not have another choice.
With Harden officially being upgraded from “OUT” to “DOUBTFUL,” then from “DOUBTFUL” to “QUESTIONABLE” in a matter of hours, though, it seems the team may be willing to risk catastrophe.
The Los Angeles Lakers tried this earlier in the postseason with Anthony Davis, and things never got better — he swiftly departed the game he’d tried to enter in a last-ditch attempt stabilize the series. The Nets running into a similar scenario with Harden could be a nice way to earn a quick exit at the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
Remember, the Lakers were de facto favorites before the Davis injury mess, which propelled the Suns on to Western Conference glory.
The Nets need to trust in the system that got them this far, hope their role players can produce, and pray that Durant goes supernova. If Harden provides anything for them, that’s great, but they need to be careful not to overexert him lest his injury ends up even worse.
A healthy Harden would make the Nets favorites again, but Harden playing at half-speed might not provide the necessary punch Brooklyn needs. If Harden is ready to go before the end of the series, that’s great, but the Nets shouldn’t risk further injury if he’s so limited.