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Nets' Joe Harris Has Gluteal Strain Injury; Nash Expects SF to Return for Playoffs

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 15, 2021

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said Saturday he expects Joe Harris to return for the 2021 NBA playoffs after testing showed the small forward suffered a left gluteal strain.

ESPN's Malika Andrews reported the update on Harris, who missed the Nets' contest versus the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and will sit out home games Saturday against the Chicago Bulls and Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers:

Brooklyn has been in a race against time to get back to full strength for the postseason. All three of its superstars—Kevin Durant (hamstring and thigh), James Harden (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (groin and facial contusion)—have missed games over the past few months.

Now the Nets can add Harris to the list. While it appears all four players should be ready for the playoffs, it could take time for them to get back on the same page because the rotation has rarely played together since Harden was acquired from the Houston Rockets in January.

"As far as time and chemistry, it's not ideal," Nash said in early April while Harden was out. "At the same time, it's not a concern that we worry about. We worry about the things that we can control. ... 

"So we're not going to spend a ton of time worrying about the negative ramifications."

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Harris will be a potential X-factor for the Nets in the playoffs because of his efficient offense. He's averaging 14.1 points per game while shooting 50.5 percent from the field, including 47.5 percent on threes, across 69 appearances.

Harris and Landry Shamet, who's knocking down 2.1 threes per game at a 38.4 percent clip, are the contributors who can help push the team over the top since Brooklyn's Big Three will attract all the defensive attention in its championship chase.

Harris' absence will also take the NBA's three-point shooting percentage race out of his hands. The 29-year-old University of Virginia product holds a slight advantage (47.5) over the Milwaukee Bucks' Bobby Portis (47.4) and Los Angeles Clippers' Marcus Morris Sr. (47.3).

He downplayed the importance of the statistic, which he previously topped during the 2018-19 season.

"I don't really pay that much attention to it. I didn't know until you told me," Harris told reporters last week. "It's not necessarily that important. I mean, I led the league in three-point shooting a couple of years ago and I got a little plaque trophy from the NBA. So, it's not that big of a deal."

While he recovers, the Nets (46-24) will attempt to lock down the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They hold a one-game edge over the Bucks (45-25) after the Philadelphia 76ers (48-23) locked down the top seed Friday.

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