The complexion of an NBA playoff series can change quickly — just ask some of the folks in Brooklyn.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead against the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Nets lost Games 3 and 4 in Milwaukee and saw Kyrie Irving go down with a nasty ankle injury. Brooklyn was already missing James Harden, who suffered a hamstring injury in the opening minute of Game 1, leaving Kevin Durant as the only healthy member of the team’s “Big Three.”
“We wish they were out there playing, but I know they’re gonna be doing their best to get back on the floor and get healthy as fast as possible,” Durant said of Harden and Irving. “That’s all we can hope for. The rest of the guys who are out there healthy enough to play, we gotta come out there and play as hard as we can every possession.
“That’s always been the mantra for us every day, is to play focused and disciplined basketball. Nothing changes, but we wish our brothers were out there.”
Here are the latest updates on Harden and Irving ahead of Tuesday’s Game 5.
Will James Harden play vs. Bucks?
Harden is officially listed as out for Game 5, the same status he had for the previous three games against the Bucks. Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters on Monday that there was no update on Harden’s recovery timeline.
“It’s tough to lose great players, but we’ve lost guys all season,” Nash said. “So if there’s any silver lining, it’s that we’ve continued to win games this year, regardless of who’s been available. We’ve been able to adapt on the fly, which is difficult to do sometimes. But for us, that’s something we have some experience with.”
The former NBA MVP was forced to leave Game 1 after playing just 43 seconds. He was diagnosed with “right hamstring tightness,” but an MRI revealed no structural damage.
In the Nets’ first-round series against the Celtics, Harden averaged 27.8 points, 10.6 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 47.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Will Kyrie Irving play vs. Bucks?
Irving is also listed as out for Game 5 after spraining his right ankle in Brooklyn’s Game 4 loss. The seven-time All-Star landed on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot after a shot attempt near the rim, angering some Nets fans who believed that Antetokounmpo intentionally slid under Irving.
Nash didn’t agree with that assessment of the play, though.
“I wouldn’t want to go inside Giannis’ head and make any proclamations. I thought it was an awkward play,” Nash said. “He ended up getting underneath Kyrie when he was in the air. I think it’d be a big stretch for me to sit here and say he meant to do that in any way. I don’t believe that’s the type of person he is, nor is that what I believe happened. It was just awkward and unfortunate.”
Steve Nash isn’t buying into the idea that there was malice behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rebound attempt that led to Kyrie Irving’s sprained ankle
“I don’t believe that’s the type of person he is. It was just awkward and unfortunate” pic.twitter.com/f1urrzRRxN
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) June 14, 2021
Through nine playoff games, Irving is averaging 22.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
Nets vs. Bucks Game 5 injury report
(Current as of 5:30 p.m. ET Monday)
|Nets||Spencer Dinwiddie||Out||Right knee; partially torn ACL|
|Nets||James Harden||Out||Right hamstring; tightness|
|Nets||Kyrie Irving||Out||Right ankle; sprain|
|Bucks||Donte DiVincenzo||Out||Left ankle; surgery|
|Bucks||Jordan Nwora||Out||Left thigh; contusion|