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James Harden will start in Game 5 vs. Bucks [UPDATE]

The Beard is set to return at home with the series tied 2-2 despite dealing with a hamstring injury.

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates a three point basket against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the First Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on June 01, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Update, Game 5 — Harden will play in Game 5 vs. the Bucks and is in the starting lineup, the team announced prior to the game.

Harden has now gone from ruled out, to doubtful, to questionable to play in Game 5 vs. the Bucks on Tuesday night. Shams Charania is reporting Harden plans on playing barring a setback during warmups, so basically he’s going to be a game-time decision. This situation is getting interesting. The desperation has definitely set in for the Nets and they must be viewing this game as more “must-win” than anything else. Falling behind 3-2 going back to Milwaukee could mean the end of the season. Harden doesn’t want to watch that from the sideline.

Harden is being upgraded to doubtful for Game 5 vs. the Bucks on Tuesday night. The Beard had been ruled out along with Kyrie Irving (ankle) on Monday. Irving was injured in the Game 4 loss that evened the series at 2-2. It appears both All-Stars will be sidelined again, but Harden’s status is improving clearly. This means we could see Harden back in action on Thursday in Game 6, particularly if the Nets are trailing 3-2.

Woj is saying Harden is determined to get back on the court and will do everything in his power to play in Game 5. This of course doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things. There’s no way Brooklyn will rush Harden back on the court and risk further injury. The Nets will have a chance to go up 3-2 at home in Game 5 and just need somebody to help out Kevin Durant.

Update, Game 4 — Nets head coach Steve Nash says Harden will be out for Game 4 vs. the Bucks, according to The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer. Both teams struggled offensively in Milwaukee’s 86-83 victory in Game 3 and the Bucks will attempt to level the series in Game 4. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will look to keep producing with Harden out.

Update, Game 3 — Harden has been ruled out for Game 3 vs. the Bucks on Thursday night. Jeff Green will also remain sidelined due to a foot injury. Harden is dealing with the hamstring tightness and the Nets aren’t taking any chances. Brooklyn doesn’t really need to up 2-0 in the series as we shift back to Milwaukee for Game 3. As long as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are healthy while the rest of the role players continue to contribute, the Nets should be fine to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. We’ll see if there’s any response from the Bucks at home. If Milwaukee can get back into the series, we may see the Nets try and get Harden on the court (or at least Green).

Update, Game 2 — Bruce Brown has been confirmed in the starting lineup for Game 2 vs. the Bucks in place of Harden.

Update, Game 2 — Harden has already been ruled out for Game 2 vs. the Bucks on Monday. He’s been diagnosed with hamstring tightness, basically what caused him to miss games during the regular season. The Nets picked up the win in Game 1 and this could just be a way of getting Harden some extra rest.

Brooklyn Nets G James Harden will not return to Game 1 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Harden appeared to tweak his right hamstring, the same one that held him out for a chunk of the regular season. The injury occurred on the first drive of the game and Harden had to leave shortly after. Here’s the play Harden appeared to injure himself on:

Final update: The Nets didn’t have Harden for about 47 minutes against the Bucks in Game 1 and it didn’t matter one bit. The Nets still coasted to a 115-107 win over Milwaukee to open the second-round series. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combined for 54 points in the win while Griffin and Harris combined for 37 to make up the bulk of the score. Brooklyn covered the pre-game spread of 4.0 points and brought home moneyline bettors as well.

Update: The Nets have built up a sizable lead, 98-84, after the third quarter. Durant took over with 13 points in the third and he’s up to 25 in the game. KD also has 4 fouls so something to monitor heading into the final frame. Irving also has 25 points and Griffin and Joe Harris have combined for 28 points to make up for Harden’s absence.

Update: The Nets hold a 63-61 lead over the Bucks at halftime without Harden. Irving is up to 20 points and Durant has 12 while Brooklyn is running a pretty tight rotation. Irving and Durant are both on pace to play almost the entire game. We’ll see how sustainable that is for Game 1, let alone an entire series.

Update: Harden has left Barclays Center and is going for imaging on his hamstring, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews.

Update: Despite the injury to Harden early on, the Nets only trail the Bucks 32-30 at the end of the first quarter. Brooklyn is +1 on the spread after one and it appears this game will still be tight with Harden’s status up in the air. Kyrie and KD combined for 17 points in the first quarter and we should see the two play more minutes as a result of the Harden injury.

The Nets were 4-point favorites heading into Game 1 in Brooklyn. Most of the bets and handle were on Brooklyn on the spread and moneyline, plus the over was heavily bet at 239.5. Harden’s status impacts all of those lines and could shift futures odds to win the NBA championship, The Nets are currently +160 on DraftKings Sportsbook to win it all and -143 to come out of the East. If this ends up being a serious injury to Harden and he’s going to miss time, getting in on the Bucks futures to win the East seem favorable at +260.

With Harden out the rest of the game, we should see plenty of Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown off the bench for the Nets. Brown was likely going to play a key role anyway as a G/F combo with Jeff Green sidelined with a foot injury. The Nets are getting points on the live spread and the game has remained close even with Harden out. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are still capable of winning games without Harden.