The Nets’ most recent performance shows they’ll need a healthy James Harden to advance past the Bucks, but it’s unclear how long it’ll take him to recover from his hamstring injury.
Brooklyn mustered only 83 points in its Game 3 loss in Milwaukee, and suddenly, it’s not looking like they’re going to just waltz into the Eastern Conference Finals. The momentum has shifted to the Bucks, and reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was a force on the defensive end. Not only that, he scored a game-high 33 points, and hauled in 14 rebounds, in leading his team to victory. Kevin Durant, to his credit, put up 30 points, but Kyrie Irving had an off-night, in terms of his efficiency.
And that’s why the Nets need Harden to return, as their role players were nearly invisible on the road, which is a trend that’s been happening in the NBA for years. Harden would give them the scoring boost that could be the difference in close games. Three superstars is better than two.
As for when he’ll return, no one really knows. Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report appeared on the “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast, and he reported the Nets are keeping Harden’s status “under wraps.”
This aligns with what head coach Steve Nash said just before Game 3.
“James will miss Game 3, but he’s progressing nicely,” Nash said. “So we’re optimistic that we can have him back at some point, but we can’t set a time on it yet.”
It will be interesting to see if Harden returns for Game 4 on Sunday night. We wouldn’t rule it out.