The Nets ruled James Harden out for Game 2 Monday with right hamstring tightness, but they’re not ruling him out for the remainder of the second-round series and beyond. In fact, Steve Nash is “definitely hopeful” he will be back on the court in the Bucks series.
“I’m definitely hopeful of seeing him. It’s tightness and we’ve had this history before which was very difficult to predict how it’ll go. I’m very reluctant to make any prognosis but we’re really hopeful he heals quickly and can move past it,” said Nash on Harden’s availability for the remainder of the second-round series against the Bucks. “At this point, we just focus on the next game and understand he won’t be with us for the next game.”
The Nets medical update on Harden was made public just after practice and before Nash spoke.
“James Harden has been diagnosed with right hamstring tightness. He is listed as out for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Milwaukee. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.”
Harden left Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals Saturday night 43 seconds into the game. The medical update and Nash’s comments were the first word about the severity of the hamstring injury. Harden, of course, has twice missed 20 of 21 games near the end of the season with a similar hamstring issue. Still, “tightness” is the best the Nets could have hoped for. The MRI apparently showed neither a strain nor a tear.
The Nets head coach didn’t provide a timetable for Harden’s return, explaining how assuming anything with Harden would be “guesswork.” While Brooklyn has as its focus Game 2 Monday without Harden, Nash noted Harden’s recent injury history with the hamstring makes it hard to predict his future.
“To be honest with you, tightness and most importantly is that he’s out for the next game. We’re preparing for tomorrow night as we ended up playing last night and that’s our focus,” Nash said. “For James, we obviously are desperate for him to return, and [he’s] a huge piece of what we do on our team but at this point, I think it will be all guesswork to really understand. He’s had such an up and down recent history with it that it’s really hard to predict. Let's hope for the best, but we can say anything really predictive or affinitive right now.”
Speaking for Harden, the Nets head coach said he has high hopes to return and even wants to return as soon as possible. Although Nash explained that risks need to be taken in the postseason, this instance will be based on how he responds in the coming days.
“He has high hopes and wants to be back ASAP. We want to protect James too. We want to make sure he’s right. This is playoff time and this is time to take some risks, but it has to be right to take those risks,” Nash said. “We’re not going to take any ole risk. We hope he’s back. He believes he can be back but we got to see what happens and only time can tell how he responds in the coming days.”
Joe Harris — who explained how the injury is another opportunity for guys to step up — said the Nets superstar was in good spirits during Sunday’s practice.
“He seemed to be in good spirits. He was talking a lot during film asking a lot of questions, Normal leadership role and he’s physically out so there’s an opportunity for other guys to step up,” said Harris on Harden.
Brooklyn will also be without Jeff Green for Game 2. Green — who is day-to-day — is hopeful for a return during Game 3 on Thursday in Milwaukee.
“Jeff is out for Game 2 but is progressing nicely,” said Nash on Green. “We’ll see him in the series and hopefully it's Game 3, but who knows.”
As he and Sean Marks have done in the past, Nash dismissed the possibility of a Spencer Dinwiddie return from a partially torn ACL.
“He’s not with the team,: said Nash of Dinwiddie who went down in Game 3. “I believe he’s rehabbing in LA and everything is going very well. I have had no conversations about him returning to the team or even returning to play at this point.”
No word on who might start in place of Harden Monday night in Brooklyn but Mike James, played 30 minutes at the point and scored 12 points Saturday.
“Just trying to do the little things,” said James who six weeks ago was playing in Russia. “We’ve got three of the best players in the world, so obviously little things matter when you’re on a team like this, especially for me.”
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