It’s a bit of a stretch to say that the Brooklyn Nets’ mettle is about to be tested given the embarrassment of superstar riches that inhabits its roster, but the reality is they will be without a vital asset until potentially the playoffs.
The Nets announced on Tuesday that star guard James Harden suffered a setback a day earlier that will hold him out indefinitely during his rehab session for a strained right hamstring that held him out nine of the previous 10 games.
“He didn’t fall or stumble or anything out of the ordinary,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “He just felt something maybe in the ballpark of a strain. Then the scan revealed he did suffer a setback. So not much more to it other than just disappointment and that we have to rebuild and get him going again.
“He’ll be back when he’s back. That may not be until the playoffs. It may be sooner. I don’t know.”
This came after another part of Brooklyn’s “Big 3” in Kevin Durant was ruled out of Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a thigh contusion, leaving Kyrie Irving to lead the Nets’ charge.
As exciting and enticing as the Nets have looked on paper since acquiring Harden from the Houston Rockets in January, the fact of the matter is that he, Durant, and Irving have only played together in just seven games.
In 42 games this season, Irving is leading with the Nets with 27.4 points per game where he’ll once again have to navigate the final stretches of the season with a supporting cast that isn’t nearly as eye-catching as Harden and possibly Durant.
That means more reps for the likes of Landry Shamet, who had 18 points in 33 minutes on Tuesday against the Pelicans, Blake Griffin, and Bruce Brown.
“The attention to detail, the focus is definitely going to need to be at a different level now that we don’t have some guys in the lineup,” Irving said. “With some NBA teams, you see them figuring it out, this process. We’re not the only ones in that position, but all we can do is focus on what we can control out there and those guys have done such a good job at staying ready.
“They’re just going out and doing it and now we’re asking them to do a little bit more offensively and defensively and being a little bit more communicative.”