James Harden has been out since April 7 with a hamstring injury, but with the postseason right around the corner, the former MVP is finally set to return. The Brooklyn Nets star guard is listed as probable and plans to play Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, so long as everything in pre-game warmups goes according to plan, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. This comes just a day after Harden was expected to be a game-time decision for Brooklyn's matchup with San Antonio.
"The plan is to hopefully get an opportunity to play a couple games before the postseason," Harden said recently. "We're just taking one day at a time. And I'm gonna leave it at that." Now, that plan appears close to becoming a reality. Brooklyn has three games left on their schedule: Wednesday vs. the Spurs, Saturday vs. the Bulls and Sunday vs. the Cavaliers.
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Harden is returning just in time for the Nets. He has missed 18 games, and in that time, Brooklyn has gone a pedestrian 10-8. As a result, the Nets are clinging to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference for dear life. Right now, they lead the Milwaukee Bucks by one game in the loss column, but the Bucks have the tiebreaker, so a single loss could put the Bucks back on top.
The combination of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has played only seven games together so far. It is highly unusual for a team with so little experience playing together to win a championship, but the Durant-Irving-Harden combination is one of the most talented in NBA history. Brooklyn will have the rest of the regular season and likely an easy first-round series against a play-in opponent to work out the kinks before the true tests begin.
Brooklyn's talent is so overwhelming that merely having all three of its stars available, even without time to jell, should make them one of the championship favorites. "I think the most important thing for us going into the postseason is health," Harden said recently. With the playoffs on their doorstep, the Nets appear to be getting healthy at the perfect time.