James Harden Needs to Complete 'High-Intensity' Workouts for Injury Return, per Nash

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 13, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 07:  James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets congratulates teammate Kevin Durant #7 after the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks during game two of the Eastern Conference second round series at Barclays Center on June 07, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. 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. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden will need to complete a few "high-intensity" workouts before he is cleared to return this postseason, head coach Steve Nash told reporters Sunday.

"When he's able to get up to full speed and do it for two or three days without recurrence or setback, then I think that's kind of the marker," he added.

Harden has not appeared in Brooklyn's Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup versus the Milwaukee Bucks since injuring his hamstring 43 seconds into Game 1. Brooklyn came into Sunday's Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead. 

It remains to be seen if Harden will return for the series, though Nash noted the star point guard is "progressing in the right direction."

"I asked him and he says he's feeling better, doing better," he added. "I asked the staff, they say, 'Yeah, it's getting better.' I think he's in that arena where he's got a little gap to make up. But he's getting closer, so it's been positive."

That the Nets won the first two games of the series without Harden—who averaged 24.6 points, 10.9 assists, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game in his 36 regular-season appearances with the team—does not bode well for the rest of the NBA. 

At full strength, the Nets have one of the most formidable offensive trios in NBA history in Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. That trio only appeared together in eight regular-season games but went 6-2 and outscored opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions when they were on the court together, per NBA.com.

In six postseason games together, however, they've posted an absurd net rating of 22.1 when on the court together. 

The only thing that's really slowed Brooklyn's Big Three this year has been injuries. Until Harden gets past his hamstring issues, the Nets aren't quite as invincible.