Brooklyn Nets' James Harden 'ready to go' after missing NBA game with hamstring injury

ByNick Friedell via via logo
January 28, 2022, 2:59 PM

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden, who missed one game with left hamstring tightness, is "ready to go" against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night, coach Steve Nash said Friday.

Harden was a late scratch against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday because of the hamstring injury.

The Nets, who come into Saturday's game having lost three straight, are counting on Harden to provide offensive stability over the next few weeks as the group tries to continue to weave Kyrie Irving back into the lineup -- while still playing without star Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss several more weeks because of a sprained MCL in his left knee.

Nash said Irving "needs the time" on the upcoming five-game road trip to keep building up his rhythm after not playing NBA basketball for almost three months.

Irving, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, is not currently allowed to play in home games because of a New York City vaccination mandate.

"He's still trying to find his game," Nash said. "His level's so good that it's hard to tell, but we can tell, he can tell. He knows that he's not fully back yet. He's right there, and he has patches, but he needs the time. ... He needs reps. And games are reps for him right now. So it's great for him individually. And as a group, it's great to get more comfortable with him, to spend more time with him. To get him reincorporated with the things we're doing and try to move this thing forward."

The issue of how to integrate a star player back into the lineup is one shared by the Nets' opponent on Saturday. The Warriors are working to get their rhythm back with Klay Thompson, who returned earlier this month after missing close to 2½ years while rehabbing separate ACL and Achilles injuries.

"Knowing Klay, it's a little deeper one for me in that I know how much he loves the game," said Nash, who spent five seasons with Golden State as a player development consultant after his own Hall of Fame career ended. "And to have him have back-to-back season-ending injuries more or less was devastating for him personally, so to see him back playing where he needs to be, where he should be, where he wants to be, is a beautiful thing."

Nash said he's been impressed by what he's seen from Thompson after so much time off.

"Missing any extended period of time, it's not straightforward coming back," Nash said. "You have to find your rhythm, you have to find your timing, you have to get your legs back under you. So two years is like an eternity ... that's some people's NBA careers. So for him to come back and play at the level he's playing at is really impressive, and he'll continue to get better."

The Warriors (36-13) are second in the Western Conference standings entering Saturday's game.

"They have that championship experience and pedigree," Nash said. "You also have a bunch of guys that are hungry. They're used to doing that. So Klay, how hungry do you think he is right now? Steph [Curry], after their last couple years, how hungry do you think he is? I think Draymond [Green], as much as anybody's come back this year, [is] in incredible form. So they're hungry, they're motivated. They have that history, and knowing and corporate knowledge."

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