The Brooklyn Nets are in a nip-and-tuck race with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Eastern Conference this season, but they may have to play the remainder of their regular season games without one of their star men.
James Harden, who had already missed the past five games with a thigh injury, had been progressing well in his rehabilitation but he suffered a major setback when undertaking some on court rehab earlier this week.
“Back To Square One”
A disappointed Nets coach Steve Nash confirmed the diagnosis, after Harden had
undergone an MRI scan on Tuesday.
“Back to square one. We’ll rehabilitate him and get him back whenever we can, and who knows when that will be. We’ll support James and our performance team in getting him back in as best condition as possible and hopefully that comes sooner than later, but there’s no guarantee.”
“He just felt it. He didn’t fall or stumble or anything out of the ordinary; he just felt something maybe in the ballpark of a strain. Then the scan revealed he did suffer a setback. So not much more to it other than just disappointment and that we have to rebuild and get him going again.”
Harden suffered the strain in the opening exchanges of the game with the New York Knicks on April 5. He had been experiencing hamstring tightness before the game but managed only four minutes of that fixture before having to head to the sideline.
“He’ll be back when he’s back,” stated Nash when asked about how long Harden would be out. “That may not be until the playoffs. It may be sooner. I don’t know.”
Injury Hit Season
Although second in the Eastern Conference, it has been an injury hit season for the Nets with their big three stars, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and now James Harden all ruled out for at least ten games each over the course of the campaign so far.
Durant is still not fully fit after picking up a left thigh contusion in Sunday’s loss against the Miami Heat, although it is expected that he will be able to return to action earlier than Harden.
No NBA Champion has ever lost all three of its points per game leading scorers for double-digit regular season games in the history of the NBA, which exemplifies the injury issues that have struck down the Nets this season.
It is a frustration for the trio as Kyrie Irving explained.
“We just all want reps together,” said the Nets star on Tuesday night.
“But if we’re not able to get that. Then we’ll have to figure it out. And that’s just the sentiment throughout the season. Just figuring out this process and meshing us together and game by game…just being there for one another. Just stay in communication.”
Nets Still Ground Pelicans
Even without Durant and Harden, the Nets managed to land a victory in last night’s game with the Zion Williamson inspired New Orleans Pelicans. Williamson connected for 33 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in a superb individual display, assisted by 27 points by Brandon Ingram.
However, that wasn’t enough for the Pelicans to beat the depleted Nets as Kyrie Irving hit 32 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds with Joe Harris contributing 24 points of his own to lead the Nets to a 134-129 victory.
That win keeps them one game behind the 76ers in the East and well ahead of the Bucks who lie third in the table.
Next up for the Nets are the Toronto Raptors, who have won all their last three games. It’s the start of a crucial spell of matches for Brooklyn as they quickly face the Celtics, the Suns, the Raptors again and then the Pacers in their next five matches.
While James Harden will likely not be fit for these games, they will hope that Kevin Durant is at least able to play some part.