One day, we’ll learn how this collection of injuries from the 2021 NBA Playoffs could be quantified historically, but, unfortunately, this has to be one of the most football-ass NBA seasons yet.
Trae Young did it last night, recording 25 points and 18 assists despite an 0-for-5 start. In that same game, a noticeably lumbering Joel Embiid went 0-for-12 in the second half. In Game 1 of the Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers first-round series, Chris Paul injured his shoulder and, even still, isn’t taking many threes, as they head to the Western Conference Finals. Later in that series, Anthony Davis attempted to play in Game 6 despite an obvious groin injury, which we already knew was a strain.
And now, we have Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden, who injured his hamstring 43 seconds into Game 1 of their series against the Bucks, and hasn’t played since. Previously up 2-0, the Nets dropped each of the Milwaukee-based games, and now play Game 5 tonight in Brooklyn.
Kyrie Irving sprained his ankle in Game 4 and has already been ruled definitively out of Game 5, and his status for the rest of the series is unknown.
However, this morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harden has been upgraded to doubtful and will test his hamstring injury in shootaround.
This comes less than 48 hours removed from Steve Nash saying he doesn’t want Harden, who also played into mid-September of last year, to risk his long-term health.
It’s worth noting, as he’ll attempt to play, that the Nets will only have one superstar in Kevin Durant who would be healthy for tonight’s Game 5. Furthermore, Harden is coming off his most injury-plagued regular season, in which he played just 44 of a possible 72 games. The least number of regular season games he had played previously was 62 in the locked out 2011-12 season, which ran 66 games long. Second was last year where he played 68, shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In every other season, which has been the standard 82-games long, Harden has appeared in at least 72 regular season contests. Prior to this spring, he had never missed a playoff game in his career, and has appeared in 134 postseason contests to date.
With shootaround scheduled for early today, this is still a developing story.