James Harden initially suffered a strained hamstring in a game against the Houston Rockets on March 31. He missed two games and then returned for an April 5 battle against the New York Knicks. He aggravated the injury then and has been out since, though the initial prognosis suggested he’d be out only 7-10 days. Now, the Nets have revealed that Harden suffered a setback on Tuesday and is out indefinitely.
“Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden experienced a setback while conducting an on-court rehab session on Monday. Following an evaluation today which included an MRI, Harden will remain out indefinitely. Updates regarding his status will be provided as appropriate,” the Nets said in a statement. Coach Steve Nash was genuinely uncertain about the timeline.
“We’re back to square one,” Nash said. “He will be back when he’s back. It might be the playoffs. It might be sooner.”
The combination of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has played only seven games and 186 minutes together since Harden was acquired from Houston earlier this season. The Nets have only 15 regular-season games left on the schedule. At most, getting Harden and Durant back healthy would have given them 22 total games to adjust to one another. Now, that number will be significantly smaller.
The playoffs are set to begin in less than a month, and with Harden now out, Brooklyn’s chance at securing home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference seems to have evaporated. The Nets trail the Philadelphia 76ers by one game in the standings and lead the Milwaukee Bucks by three games. However, they will play the Bucks twice before the end of the season. If the Bucks win both, they will secure the tiebreaker thanks to head-to-head victories. The Nets are now in serious danger of slipping to No. 3 in the Eastern Conference and having to start series against both the Bucks and 76ers on the road.
Brooklyn’s roster was always built on the idea that talent beats all. Now that idea will be put to the ultimate test. No championship team has ever had less time to develop together than this one. They’ll not only need to get healthy to win it all, but figure out how to play together on the fly.
Courtesy: CBS Sports