James Harden is a key contributor for Oklahoma City, and if he's unable to play in the playoffs because of his concussion, the young Thunder team won't be completing a title run.
On Sunday, Harden took an elbow to the head from Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, and Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry tweeted the status of the gifted shooting guard.
James Harden does have a concussion. He will travel back to to OKC with the team, but his status for the final two games is uncertain.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) April 22, 2012
If the Thunder are smart, they will rest Harden in both of those games and then figure out how healthy he is for the postseason.
It was a nasty blow to the head, and if you haven't seen the hit, feel free to watch the video below.
The hope is that Harden will be ready to go for the postseason, but concussions have to be taken seriously. The last thing Oklahoma City needs is to push Harden's return too soon, only to have him end up getting injured again.
That will mess with Harden's future, which won't be good for the team and more importantly, him.
The Thunder are likely to finish the season as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, unless the San Antonio Spurs flop in the final few games of the year.
It's unknown who Oklahoma City will play in the first round, but no matter who it is, the Thunder will struggle without Harden.
Even though he isn't a starter, Harden comes off the bench and dominates. He's averaged nearly 17 points per game on the year, scoring 20 or more points a total of 15 times on the year.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be asked to step up in a major way. They're capable of putting points on the board and beating their opponents, but it wont be easy without Harden.
Whats more, Harden is a great defender, and the Thunder will greatly miss his skills while he rehabs.
Much is expected of Oklahoma City this postseason, as several folks believe they can win it all or at least reach the finals.
Unfortunately, without Harden, the Thunder are going to get into trouble.
Since it is playoff time, I wouldn't be surprised to see Harden return to action and push himself, but he has to be extra careful. These guys are true competitors, and they're going to want to play in the biggest games of the year.
If Harden is unable to play in the postseason, the Thunder won't be completely toast, but they'll be pretty close. If he is able to go, Oklahoma City must be cautious with his return because his safety is what's most important.