‘Heartbroken’ Nets trying to look ahead vs. Bucks after James Harden’s injury
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Brooklyn Nets have experienced their fair share of adversity this season when it comes to getting their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden on the court at the same time this season after acquiring Harden from Houston in February.
Injuries have been an overwhelming issue as all three have missed time, but good news came in the form of three clean bills of health for each of the stars heading into the NBA Playoffs.
That lasted for the first round against the Boston Celtics — and all of 43 seconds in Game 1 of the second round against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Harden re-aggravated the hamstring that held him out for a month between April and May within the first sequences on Saturday, forcing him to exit and not return.
“You never want to see that for someone like James, who is such an important player and such an incredible player and cares so much. I’m heartbroken for him,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know if he’s playing next game, if he’s out. I have no idea, but I’m heartbroken for him…
“I mean, this guy was so ready and excited to play tonight. You know the preparation he puts in. You know how much he cares about the game, how much he cares about his team. So you never want to see that when someone gives everything they have towards this.”
The 31-year-old underwent an MRI shortly after exiting the game, but just like his timetable, the results are still unknown.
“It just sucks, it sucks,” Durant said. “I want him to be out there. I know how much he cares, I know how much he wants to be in this moment. It sucks. I wish him a speedy recovery, we’re going to keep him involved as much as possible, but it’s just a bad break.”
A timetable has not been placed as of yet on just how long Harden will be out, but given how long the hamstring sidelined him at the end of the regular season, it doesn’t look good.
“It’s never easy to lose anybody, especially this time of the year where we just wanna have fun playing basketball and playing the right way and competing at a high level,” Irving said. “We’re obviously out there for bigger reasons, so when you see the game snatched away so early from one of our brothers, we feel for him, and we just had to make a quick adjustment and just adjust from there.
“That’s the best thing we can do. We just came in the huddle, made sure that everybody on the bench knew kind of the situation we were in, and like I said we just played out from there. It went our way… but obviously, we’re gonna feel his loss no matter what.”
The Nets still managed to come away with a 115-107 victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks — but the challenge of getting by one of the top teams in the East and one of the game’s most imposing players becomes that much harder when Harden’s production of 27.8 points and 10.6 assists per game this postseason.
“We try not to be too emotional out there but losing one of your leaders like that, first play of the game, we had to regroup a couple minutes to figure out what was next,” Durant said. “The coaching staff did a great job moving forward… we didn’t care about anything else but executing the game plan… We’re going to be thinking about James… It’s just a bad situation. I hate that it had to happen right now.”
Game 2 tips off on Monday night from Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. ET.