With less than a dozen games to go in the regular season, the Brooklyn Nets still remain without one-third of their superstar trio. James Harden remains sidelined with a strained hamstring and it appears that he’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Steve Nash gave a brief update on his star guard on Tuesday evening, sharing that the 31-year-old has been completing shooting and strength work. However, the Nets head coach reiterated that there is “still a ways to go” before Harden’s return, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
It’s a somber update for Nash and the Nets who have been without Harden since he left with hamstring tightness on April 5. He’s now missed 10 straight games after he suffered a setback during his rehab, delaying his return even further.
Prior to his injury, Harden had become the primary ball handler for the Nets and helped guide the team to a historic offensive output. He averaged 25.4 points, 11.0 assists and 8.7 rebounds in 34 appearances for Brooklyn and helped carry the group with Durant on the sidelines.
Steve Nash said that James Harden is traveling with the team, is doing shooting and strength work — but has yet to do anything high intensity. Nash said there is “still a ways to go” before he returns.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) April 27, 2021
Since Harden went down, Durant has returned and picked up where left off, but the lack of consistency in the Nets rotation is generating some serious concern. Brooklyn has used 32 different starting lineups during the 2020-21 season. On top of that, the team’s “Big Three” has played in just seven games together and likely won’t get another chance to do so during the regular season.
Even with all of the adversity, the Nets hold a one-game lead on the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Not only would that grant Brooklyn home-court advantage until the NBA Finals, but would also prevent a match-up with the 76ers or the Bucks until the conference finals. Both would be small bonuses that the Nets would benefit from if they hold onto the top spot.
However, if Harden can’t return early on in the postseason, the Nets are a completely different group. Brooklyn needs him, but time will tell when, or if, he’ll be back this year.