James Harden injury update: Nets star's availability for Game 2 unknown after aggravating hamstring vs. Bucks
The Brooklyn Nets were hardly ever fully healthy during the regular season. The combination of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving played only eight games and 202 minutes together during the regular season, but after a quick 4-1 series win over the Boston Celtics in the first round, it looked like the star trio was finally starting to coalesce.
Unfortunately, the injury gods just won't leave the Nets alone. Less than one minute into Game 1 of their second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Harden left and went to the locker room. He was seen reaching for his right hamstring on Brooklyn's first offensive possession, a drive and kick attempt. He was then ruled out for the remainder of the game due to that hamstring.
"I didn't realize what had happened until he had started walking off the court, but we supposed to run [a] play and he wasn't in his spot, and I looked at him, he was grimacing," Durant said after the game. "It just sucks. It sucks. It sucks because I want him to be out there. I know how much he cares. I know how much he wants to be in this moment. It sucks. Wishing him a speedy recovery. Keep him involved as much as possible. It's just a bad break."
Harden left the arena to get an MRI done, and the Nets are still awaiting the results of that testing.
After the game, Nets coach Steve Nash spoke of Brooklyn's injury history this season and Harden's importance to the team.
"You know we got a lot thrown at us this year, so we were, in a sense, well trained for this event," Nash said. "But you never want to see that for someone like James, who is such an important player and such an incredible player and cares so much. I'm heartbroken for him. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if he's playing the next game, if he's out. I have no idea. But I'm heartbroken for him that he had to miss tonight."
Harden missed 21 games during the regular season because of an issue with his right hamstring, so any issue there is a very serious blow to Brooklyn's championship hopes. This series already has a number of injuries weakening both sides. The Nets are playing Game 1 without forward Jeff Green. The Bucks lost guard Donte DiVincenzo for the postseason during their first-round series against the Miami Heat. Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL earlier in the season and has been out ever since.
Injuries have sadly been a constant feature of this condensed season, but as Nash said, Brooklyn is built to withstand them as well as any other team. Having three All-Star shot creators helps protect them against an injury to any one of them. The duo of Kyrie Irving and Durant is still more than enough to keep the offense afloat for a short period, but in order to win the championship, the Nets will need all three of their stars contributing.