Brooklyn Nets star James Harden is planning to get back on the court before the playoffs, telling reporters on Thursday that he's "very confident" he'll be able to play a few games at the end of the regular season. At this point, however, there's no specific date that he or the team is targeting for his return from a hamstring injury.
"The plan is to hopefully get an opportunity to play a couple games before the postseason," Harden said. "We're just taking one day at a time. And I'm gonna leave it at that."
Harden originally tweaked his hamstring in late March and sat out for two games before returning on April 5 against the New York Knicks. But after feeling some tightness in his hamstring, he checked out after four minutes and didn't return. An MRI revealed a hamstring strain, and the Nets announced he would be re-evaluated in 10 days. Unfortunately, Harden then suffered a setback during a workout on April 20, which has extended his absence indefinitely.
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Between Harden's injuries and various absences from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets' big three has still only played seven games together. And while no one questions their abilities on the court, there's some concern about whether they'll be able to stay healthy through an entire postseason.
Harden, unsurprisingly, agrees that the biggest thing for this group is just staying on the floor.
"I think the most important thing for us going into the postseason is health," Harden said. "And this season has been so condensed. You see a lot of guys going down because of the amount of games, so I think for us, our mindset is, if we can come into this postseason healthy, we are right there and we've got a chance, and that's it right there within itself, so finish these last 6 games out strong, focus on the things we need to focus on, things we can control, and go out there and have fun, and we'll live with the results."
The Nets are currently on a three-game losing streak to drop to 43-23 on the season, and sit in second place in the Eastern Conference. They're two games behind the first-place 76ers, and one game ahead of the third-place Bucks, but have lost the season series to both of those teams.