In a development that could have a huge impact not only on the series between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, but the NBA playoffs as a whole, James Harden left Game 1 43 seconds into the action with a strained right hamstring.
TNT’s Jared Greenberg reported Harden left the arena to get an MRI. He missed 21 games this season with a strained right hamstring.
The Nets and their “Big 3” of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are heavy favorites to win the NBA title in just their first season together. Per Caesars William Hill, the Nets are at +165 to win the title.
If Harden is forced to miss extended time in the playoffs, it could have a major impact on this first-round series and ultimately on who wins the NBA title.
On Friday, Harden said he felt this was his best chance to win an NBA championship after never winning one in Houston or Oklahoma City.
“[But] you look at our roster, we’re elite too,” he said. “It’s going to be a showdown but I’m more than confident going into this postseason just because of the roster and our schemes and the things that we can control and the versatility that we have.”
Since coming over in a blockbuster trade from Houston in January, Harden has taken over point-guard duties from Kyrie Irving and become more of a facilitator for Irving, Durant, Joe Harris and the rest of the Nets.
Without him, Irving and Mike James will see more time at the point.
“Obviously, there’s only a handful of teams that have an opportunity,” Harden said Friday of winning a title. “And we’re one of those teams this year. So the excitement is there, but I think just the focus is the most important thing for myself. And just trying to rub that focus level and that engagement to detail into every one of my teammates.”