James Harden is hurt again and the Brooklyn Nets will be without their best pure scorer in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Milwaukee Bucks. The question is, will it even matter?
In Game 1 of the series Saturday night, Harden was forced out after one minute with a hamstring injury. It didn't mater. The Nets beat the Bucks 115-107 behind a combined 54 points from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Bucks have their own problems, like the fact that two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo only played 35 minutes for some reason. It gave flashbacks to last year when head coach Mike Budenholzer couldn't give a good explanation for why Giannis wasn't playing more.
In the end, will Harden's absence matter? The Nets have Durant, Irving, a rejuvenated Blake Griffin and Joe Harris, who led the NBA by hitting 47.5 percent of his 3-pointers this season. They have plenty of firepower to get by the Bucks, especially if Giannis can't play 40 minutes. Budenholzer's philosophy of keeping his starters fresh by not pushing them could lead to another early exit.
As of now, it's hard to see the Nets losing that series, with or without Harden. Maybe it's best if he sits and rests until it appears otherwise, especially given that he missed more than a month with a hamstring injury earlier this year.