Even though they recovered to beat the Bucks in the first game of their playoff series, the Nets were shocked and disappointed by the hamstring injury that sidelined James Harden in the first minute Saturday night, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Harden felt pain in his hamstring on a drive to the basket and left the game for an MRI. The results of that test will determine his availability for the rest of the series.
“You never want to see that for someone like James, who is such an important player and such an incredible player and cares so much,” coach Steve Nash said. “I’m heartbroken for him. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if he’s playing the next game, if he’s out. I have no idea. But I’m heartbroken for him that he had to miss tonight.”
Harden missed more than 20 games late in the season with a strain of the same hamstring. He was able to return during the final week and played all five games of the first-round series against the Celtics without any issues. The Nets have a quick turnaround for Monday’s Game 2 and they’re awaiting word on when Harden will be able to play again.
“I know how much he cares. I know how much he wants to be in this moment,” Kevin Durant said. “… Wishing him a speedy recovery. Keep him involved as much as possible. It’s just a bad break.”
There’s more from Brooklyn:
- The Nets won’t risk a long-term injury to Harden by trying to play him before he’s fully recovered, sources tell Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link). Schultz adds that it’s a sensitive issue right now after the Lakers permitted Anthony Davis to play in their final game despite a groin injury.
- Blake Griffin helped the Nets survive the loss of Harden by posting 18 points and 14 rebounds for his best rebounding performance and second double-double since joining the Nets, notes Ryan Dunleavy of The New York Post. He’s happy to be part of the playoffs after being benched in Detroit before a buyout in March. “For two years, I didn’t hear much positivity,” Griffin said. “Probably rightfully so. But it’s pretty crazy how quickly it happens, so I’m just thankful for this opportunity.”
- Jonathan Lehman of The New York Post looks at the path Tyler Johnson traveled to get to Brooklyn after getting a massive offer from the organization as a restricted free agent in 2016. The Heat matched that offer, but Johnson eventually became a salary dump in Phoenix before joining the Nets last summer in advance of the restart.