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James Harden will return to lineup Wednesday vs. Spurs [UPDATE]

Nets All-Star has been sidelined for over a month due to a hamstring injury.

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Update: May 12 — Harden will play in Wednesday night’s game vs. the San Antonio Spurs. Harden has been sidelined since the beginning of April due to a hamstring injury. The Nets will have The Beard on a minutes restriction in his return to the lineup. Kyrie Irving is sidelined with a facial contusion.

The Nets are still fighting to secure the No. 2 seed in the East, which matters a bit for matchups in the first round. Brooklyn can get the 2-seed and likely face the Celtics or Hornets in the first round or end up facing the Knicks, Hawks or Heat. Harden likely won’t play a ton of minutes in his first game back, but this is a good sign for Harden being 100 percent next week when the postseason begins.

Brooklyn Nets All-Star G James Harden told reporters he’s “very confident” he’ll return to the lineup before the 2021 NBA playoffs begin on May 22. Harden has been sidelined since the beginning of April after aggravating a hamstring injury. The Nets have six games remaining in the regular season, including Thursday night’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. Harden is running out of time to get back before the end of the regular season. Still, The Beard says he expects to be back in time for the first round.

Potential target games could be next week, when the Nets play the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. The Nets finish the season with two sets of back-to-backs: the Bulls on Tuesday and Spurs on Wednesday. Then the Bulls again on Saturday before finishing the season Sunday vs. the Cavaliers.

Brooklyn has been fine most of the season with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Harden in and out of the lineup for injuries and personal reasons. Without Harden since the beginning of April, the Nets are 9-7 and enter Thursday in 2nd place in the East, 1.0 game up on the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets remain the favorite to win a championship this season at +240 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Brooklyn is favored to win the East at -112.