Steve Nash: Nets Will Be 'As Careful As Possible' With James Harden Amid Injury Rehab

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 6, 2021

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 2: Blake Griffin #2 talks with James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on May 2, 2021 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images).
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The Brooklyn Nets would undoubtedly love to get James Harden back before the playoffs begin. It would giving them, particularly their stars who have rarely seen the court together, a chance to build some chemistry and momentum. 

But head coach Steve Nash told reporters Thursday that the team wasn't going to rush him back from his right hamstring injury.

"If he's able, it would be great to start that process," he said. "If he's not—and we feel unsure about it—then it's better to be safe. But it looks really good right now, he's worked extremely hard, has put himself in a position to return before the playoffs. But like I said, we'll be as careful as possible with those decisions."

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"We'll be as careful as possible with those decisions"<br><br>Steve Nash sees the benefit of having James Harden return before the end of the regular season, but also knows it also might not be a possibility pic.twitter.com/geOoVq1YVh

"We just have to continue to chip away at everything we need to do to put ourselves in a position," Nash added. "That is the challenge for this group; We don't have that common history, this isn't our third, fourth year of running it back. It's all brand new and it's so new that we haven't even played some of our best lineups together."

Nash's remarks followed Harden telling reporters earlier on Thursday he was "very confident" he could return before the playoffs began:

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James Harden says he is "very confident" he will be back before the post season. https://t.co/ZcWK2NbTXf

The Nets have been beset by injuries this season, with the Big 3 of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving playing just seven games together. Despite that, the Nets have still managed to go 43-23, good for second place in the Eastern Conference (two games behind the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers). 

Even if Harden returns, the Nets won't have much time for that group to build chemistry, with just six regular-season games remaining. And the Nets may not draw an easy first-round opponent, either—the Miami Heat, which reach the NBA Finals a year ago, are currently the No. 7 seed in the East.

Additionally a second-round series with the dangerous Milwaukee Bucks might be looming—all the more reason it would benefit Brooklyn to get Harden back on the court as soon as possible. 

However, the Nets don't want Harden back at the expense of his health. Harden has missed the past month with that hamstring strain, and he and the Nets don't seem too worried about their lack of on-court time together. 

"One of the things that a lot of teams don't have is talent," Harden told reporters Thursday. "We don't have to worry about that aspect. Skillwise, we're elite."

"Our mindset is, if we can come to this postseason healthy, we are right there," he added. "We have a chance."