Windhorst: James Harden's Hamstring Injury Status Kept 'Under Wraps' By Nets

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 11, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) in action against the Boston Celtics in the second half of Game 5 during an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly making a concerted effort to prevent information on guard James Harden's hamstring injury from leaking.

On his podcast Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective (beginning at the 41-minute mark) on Friday, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said the Nets are keeping Harden's status "under wraps."

Windhorst said he has been unable to garner any specifics on Harden's injury and has no idea when he will return.

Harden suffered the injury early in Brooklyn's Game 1 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in their second-round playoff series, and he has missed Games 2 and 3 since.

Despite Harden's early exit in Game 1, the Nets were victorious and then won Game 2 without him to take a 2-0 series lead.

With their backs against the wall, the Bucks rebounded in Game 3 on Thursday with an 86-83 win to cut the deficit in half.

Without Harden, the Nets struggled offensively in Game 3, shooting 36.2 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Brooklyn also had just 15 assists; Harden averaged 10.9 assists per game in 36 regular-season contests with the Nets.

The 2018 NBA MVP was excellent in the Nets' first-round playoff series win against the Boston Celtics as well, averaging 27.8 points, 10.6 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.

That said, Brooklyn could still beat the Bucks, take out the Philadelphia 76ers or Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals and then win a championship without Harden, provided Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving play at a high level.

Durant and Irving have both won NBA championships, and KD was named NBA Finals MVP twice with the Golden State Warriors.

Harden adds a different dimension to Brooklyn's offensive attack, though, and acts as the team's primary ball-handler, which allows Irving to do more off the ball.

The Bucks haven't played close to their best in the second round, but with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton to lead the way, they could hit their stride anytime.

A Bucks squad that is firing on all cylinders may be better than the Nets without Harden, but combining Harden with Durant and Irving arguably makes Brooklyn the best team in the league.

Harden's status is a mystery to anyone outside the organization. Until he returns, the Bucks need to take advantage of playing against a Nets team below full strength.


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