Although James Harden was initially ruled out for Game 5, the Brooklyn Nets have upgraded his status to questionable.
The Brooklyn Nets are dealing with injuries to two of their star players, but there is some optimism that James Harden could will his way back into the lineup. Earlier on Tuesday, the team announced that Harden was upgraded from out to doubtful for Game 5. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Harden is “determined” to get cleared.
Harden is expected to test his hamstring in shoot-around today and has been determined to try and find a way to get cleared to play Game 5, sources tell ESPN. There are no guarantees on his status but Harden is trying to play with series 2-2. https://t.co/gYCTIKXXl8
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2021
Later in the day, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Harden “plans to play” so long as he is able to make it through pregame warmups.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 15, 2021
Harden went down with a hamstring strain within the first minute of Game 1 in this series. This was the same injury that kept him out for 20 games during the regular season.
James Harden is heading to the locker room with an apparent hamstring injury pic.twitter.com/r8hmUGHF05
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 5, 2021
Hamstrings are a tricky injury that can take time to heal. From the outside looking in, this feels like the Nets are hesitant about putting Harden out there, but the two-time MVP is going to do whatever he can to play.
Harden, 31, averaged 27.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 10.6 assists on 56/48/91 shooting splits in Brooklyn’s first-round series with the Boston Celtics.
If nothing else, this gives Milwaukee something else to think about and game plan for ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
It’s also worth noting that Kyrie Irving is ruled out with an ankle sprain for Game 5. That means Kevin Durant is the only Nets superstar who we know for a fact will be in the lineup on Tuesday.
With or without Harden, Durant has an opportunity to prove that he’s the best player in the world. Putting the Nets on his back until Harden and Irving can return to full strength would be a major statement.