James Harden Expected To Return Before NBA Playoffs

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Mar 31, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets shooting guard James Harden (13) warms up before the game against the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Nets guard James Harden is expected to return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup before the NBA playoffs. Per ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Harden is “very confident” that he’ll be back before the postseason.

Harden, 31, is currently out with a strained hamstring. Reports of issues regarding his hamstring started toward the end of March. The former league MVP missed a couple of games at the time due to tightness. He left early during a game against the New York Knicks on April 5th due to further discomfort. An MRI later revealed the strain. He has not dressed to play since, missing 15 games in the process.

Why Was James Harden Out For So Long?

Apr 20, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) in street clothes due to injury against New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The nine-time all-star was originally set to return to play a few weeks ago. However, Harden suffered a setback during training that prolonged his leave. The Nets guard hopes to rejoin the team and play through a few games before the playoffs start on May 22nd.

Although he is traveling with the team on their current road trip, it is unclear when Harden will be available to play again. He has already been ruled out of the Nets’ Thursday night game against the Dallas Mavericks. Brooklyn’s remaining games will be against the Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls (twice), San Antonio Spurs, and Cleveland Cavaliers.

What Harden’s Return Means For Brooklyn

Mar 29, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) warms up prior to the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

A key part of Brooklyn’s top-rate offense, Harden averages 25.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 11 assists per game on a 46.7 shooting percentage this season. With just six games remaining on their schedule, the Nets will have little time to rework their rotation for Harden’s comeback. 

With a 43-23 record, the Brooklyn Nets currently sit in second place in the eastern conference. They are two games back of the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers and one up on the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Harden’s return will go a long way in helping the Nets compete with these teams on route to a potential championship victory.

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