James Harden's return from a hamstring injury probably wasn't what the Brooklyn Nets were hoping for, but it ended up not mattering thanks to the effort of one Kevin Durant.
Harden returned to the Nets with a thud in Game 5, scoring only five points on a ghastly 1-of-10 shooting (0-of-8 from deep) with eight assists, six rebounds and four turnovers in a 114-108 Nets win on Tuesday. Not helping was an eye poke from P.J. Tucker in the third quarter:
nooo James Harden got poked in the eye pic.twitter.com/aw6ypP8D96
— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 16, 2021
The Nets announced less than an hour before the game that Harden would make his return after missing three games. He was initially listed as questionable for the game, but apparently decided to give it a try.
James Harden is AVAILABLE tonight. pic.twitter.com/jlikomFVL9
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 15, 2021
Harden had been out since the opening minute of Game 1, when he pulled up after a drive the basket. In his absence, the Nets steamrolled the Bucks in Games 1 and 2, but lost Games 3 and 4 when the series moved to Milwaukee.
Even with Harden back (if you can really count him being back), the Nets are still missing Kyrie Irving, who sprained his right ankle in Game 4 when he stepped on the foot of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Irving was ruled out for Game 5 on Monday, and it's unclear if he'll return during the series.
Fortunately for the Nets, the team was 3-0 in the regular season with Durant and Harden and without Irving, with one of this wins coming against the Bucks, per ESPN Stats & Info. And now, they're 1-0 in the playoffs.
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