MILWAUKEE — James Harden has by no means gained that elusive NBA championship, however he’s fairly certain he is aware of what it’s going to take — making what appears unattainable doable.
On Tuesday, that meant combating again from a hamstring damage, upgraded from out to uncertain to questionable to logging 46 minutes in a Game 5 win over the Bucks. On Thursday it may imply an encore, Harden already dominated accessible for Game 6 with an opportunity to shut out the Eastern Conference semis — hamstring be damned.
“I feel great. … At this point, it’s by any means necessary,” Harden mentioned.
“We know there were going to be times in the postseason where we hit adversity, where things feel like they’re up against us and they can’t be done. In reality, they can be done. We’ve just got to find ways to get them done. … It feels like just when things are going well, something hits us. My approach to the guys is keep fighting. It’s going to be great on the other side.”
After struggling proper hamstring tightness simply 43 seconds into the sequence opener, Harden hadn’t performed since June 5. But with the Nets shedding Games 3 and 4 in Milwaukee, and Kyrie Irving to a sprained ankle, Harden was decided to return.
In a season-saving victory, Harden handed out eight assists and grabbed six rebounds. And after feeling his approach by the primary half, he was a plus-20 within the second because the Nets blitzed the Bucks 71-49.
“He was not James at 100 percent, clearly,” coach Steve Nash mentioned. “But he’s still able to run the team, give us confidence, give us poise.”
Harden didn’t simply play — he ran a marathon on one leg.
“I didn’t expect to play [at all], so 46 [minutes] is a lot. But I’m built for it,” Harden mentioned. “Get some rest and get my proper treatment. Credit to our trainers, they’ve been doing an unbelievable job of preparing me. So, get some rest and give it another shot Game 6 and try to come up with the same results.”
Can he flip in the identical outcomes after logging 46 minutes in his return? The Nets appear to suppose simply shaking off the rust will outweigh any fatigue.
“I don’t know at all what James will look like for the next game compared to last night,” Nash mentioned. “But there are certain things that he’ll feel more comfortable with just from a comfort of having played more basketball, from having a game under his belt, having felt it out there. That can only make him more comfortable and improve if physically he’s OK, and so far, he is.”
He may be OK, however Harden wasn’t even an inexpensive facsimile of himself Tuesday. He shot 1-for-10 total and 0-for-8 from deep, and appeared motionless at instances. But the Bucks inexplicably let him off the hook, failing to assault him defensively.
They’ll know higher Thursday, dealing with elimination.
“Just keep having a lot of movement, lot of screen-and-rolls. Whoever he’s guarding, set pick-and-rolls, roll, pop, make him move, transition,” Giannis Antetokounmpo mentioned of the sport plan. “Whenever you see him, assault him. Don’t let him off the hook.
“Just make him move. Make him guard. That’s pretty much it.”
Harden discovered himself guarding Brook Lopez, however the 7-footer — who has a 7-inch top benefit — settled for a fringe jumper fairly than publish up. And on one other event, Antetokounmpo — half a foot taller — began to publish up however ended up taking an off-balance fadeaway.
“I don’t know, maybe they will try to target him more,” Nash mentioned. “It’s not really what they do, it would be a departure in some ways. But they may. And we’ll be ready for that as well.”
And Harden will attempt to deal with that, too. By any means mandatory.