The Brooklyn Nets lost Kyrie Irving in the second quarter of Game 2 after he suffered a sprained ankle landing on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot in the lane, and suddenly found themselves without two of their Big 3, as James Harden sat on the bench in street clothes due to an aggravation of his hamstring injury in the first minute of Game 1.
On Monday, the Nets listed both Irving and Harden as officially out, and it seemed like they’d enter the pivotal Game 5 with just Kevin Durant leading the way. Then, on Tuesday morning Harden was moved to doubtful and later upgraded again to questionable after going through another workout in the afternoon, and it became apparent that the Nets’ star guard had a very real chance of making his return.
Update to the Status Report for tonight's Game 5:
Harden (right hamstring tightness) – QUESTIONABLE https://t.co/bWDBouMz1O
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 15, 2021
The Athletics’ Shams Charania brought further word that Harden “plans to play” provided he doesn’t suffer a setback in pregame.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 15, 2021
It would be great news for the Nets if Harden can go and be anything close to his normal self, but there is obviously concern about whether he’s hurrying back and could aggravate it again as he did in the opener. Steve Nash insisted the team wouldn’t let him rush back at risk of longterm issues, but with the importance of Game 5, Harden clearly wants to do everything in his power to play. That he was initially listed as out raises eyebrows though, as it’s quite the rare shift to go from that to questionable in under 24 hours.