James Harden Ruled Out for Nets vs. Bucks Game 4; Hamstring Injury 'Progressing'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2021

Brooklyn Nets' James Harden (13) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden will not play in Sunday's Game 4 of Brooklyn's second-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

According to Chris Milholen of Nets Daily, Nets head coach Steve Nash said Harden is "progressing well."

Harden was removed early in Game 1 against Milwaukee with a hamstring injury and subsequently missed Games 2 and 3.

Harden, who is in the midst of his first season with the Nets following a trade from the Houston Rockets, has struggled with injuries as of late.

He missed 18 games with a hamstring strain during the latter part of the regular season before picking up another hamstring ailment in the playoffs.

When healthy and on the court, the nine-time All-Star, three-time scoring champion and one-time NBA MVP has been a stud for the Nets.

In 36 regular-season games for Brooklyn, Harden averaged 24.6 points, 10.9 assists, 8.5 rebounds, 2.7 three-pointers made and 1.3 steals while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from long range.

Despite getting traded to a Nets team that already had a top point guard in Kyrie Irving, Harden essentially took over as the point guard and primary ball-handler, and he has thrived in that role.

In six playoff games so far this postseason, Harden has put up averages of 23.2 points, 8.8 assists, 6.2 rebounds3.2 three-pointers made and 1.7 steals.

Harden was the unquestioned go-to guy during his time with the Rockets, and while that may not necessarily be the case on a stacked Nets team, Harden is still of the utmost importance and likely needed to contend for a championship.

With Harden still on the shelf, Kevin Durant and Irving will act as Brooklyn's top offensive stars, which is a duo Brooklyn is more than capable of winning some games with.

The big challenge relates to who will replace Harden in the lineup and eat up the bulk of floor time. Based on who has stepped up during previous absences this season, look for Joe Harris and Bruce Brown to take on more minutes with Landry Shamet and Mike James seeing an increase in playing time off the bench as well.

Brooklyn will look to expand its 2-1 series lead when it faces the Bucks in Milwaukee in Game 4 on Sunday.