James Harden injury update: Nets star ‘wants to play’ Game 5 vs. Bucks, tests out hamstring in pregame routine


James Harden has missed all but 43 seconds of the first four games of the Brooklyn Nets’ second-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks due to a hamstring strain, but he is progressing toward a return to action. After initially being ruled out for Game 5 against the Bucks on Tuesday night, Harden was first upgraded to doubtful, and the upgraded again to questionable. Harden is testing out his hamstring prior to tipoff of Game 5 and a final decision regarding his status will be made. Harden plans to play in the game barring a setback, coach Steve Nash said ahead of the contest.

“I’m not sure the level of risk. It’s not my expertise,” Nash said. “I think it is James’ decision. He’s been pushing. He wants to play, but he’s gotta go through his pregame routine and see if he’s able. but ultimately it’ll be James’ decision and we’ll support him.”

Harden wastes little time ahead of Game 5 as he gets in some practice shots while testing out his hamstring:

After losing the past two games in the series — and Kyrie Irving to an ankle injury in Game 4 — coach Steve Nash reiterated that the team will continue to play it extremely safe when it comes to bringing Harden back, and that Irving’s injury won’t impact Harden’s return timeline. 

“James is an independent case. I don’t want James to be rushed back,” Nash said. “If he’s able to play next game or the game after, that’s fantastic. If he’s not, I don’t want to rush him back and jeopardize doing something worse or making this a long-term injury. So we’ll see. We’ll have to take all of these things into account, and evaluate them and try to make a smart decision.” “I don’t want James rushed back,” Nash said after the Nets’ Game 4 loss Sunday. “If he’s able to play next game or the game after, that’s fantastic. If he’s not, I don’t want to rush him back and jeopardize something worse.”   

Brooklyn has been very vague when it comes to a timeline for Harden’s return, but Nash has maintained that the guard is “progressing” in his rehab. You can see the play where where Harden’s injury occurred below: 

Through the first three games of the series, Irving and Durant had shouldered a bulk of the offensive workload for the Nets, but it was only Durant who was healthy to play the entirety of Game 4 after Irving left in the second quarter. The combination of Harden, Durant and 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. Obviously, they’re hopeful that Harden will indeed be able to play in Game 5, but if not, at least he’s moving in the right direction. 





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