Brooklyn Nets Take Game 1 Over the Bucks, Lose Harden to Injury Early
This was not the way the Brooklyn Nets were hoping to draw first blood in this series.
The Brooklyn Nets would go onto take Game 1 by a score of 115-107, but the win came with adversity as the Nets lost James Harden early in the first quarter to a re-aggravated hamstring injury.
Harden, who was spectacular upon his return in the first round against the Boston Celtics, did not return to the game, heading straight to the locker room in the first minute of the contest under his own power. The injury occurred on what looked to be an innocent drive towards the basket as Harden grabbed his right hamstring immediately after landing
“You know we got a lot thrown at us this year, so we were, in a sense, well trained for this event,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said after the game. “But you never want to see that for someone like James, who is such an important player and such an incredible player and cares so much. I’m heartbroken for him. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if he’s playing the next game, if he’s out. I have no idea. But I’m heartbroken for him that he had to miss tonight.”
Harden’s teammate Kevin Durant, who finished the game with a team-high 29 points shared Nash’s sentiments.
“I didn’t realize what had happened until he had started walking off the court, but we supposed to run [a] play and he wasn’t in his spot, and I looked at him, he was grimacing,” said Durant, who also grabbed 10 boards in the win. “It just sucks. It sucks. It sucks because I want him to be out there.
“I know how much he cares. I know how much he wants to be in this moment. It sucks. Wishing him a speedy recovery. Keep him involved as much as possible. It’s just a bad break.”
Blake Griffin stepped up in Harden’s absence, turning back the clock to a tune of 18 points and 14 rebounds. Kyrie Irving added 25 points and eight assists in the win while Joe Harris scored 19 points of his own. On the Milwaukee side, Giannis Antetokounmpo did all he could to will the Bucks to a Game 1 victory, finishing with 34 points and 11 rebounds.
“I think it was a little bit of everything,” said Antetokounmpo in the aftermath of the loss. “Shots didn’t go in. Did not compete as hard as we wanted defensively; still got to step that up a little bit, make it as tough for them as possible.
“We didn’t play for a week, everybody had the adrenaline going, the jitters, and wasn’t able to calm down as a team and take a breath and play the right way, find our shots. But obviously, we were able to win that game. Now, you’re playing a team that’s way better offensively, and they made a lot of shots. So, obviously, we’ve just got to come out in Game 2 and do a better job.”
The Bucks will look to nod up the series at 1-1 on Monday night, but until then, the NBA will play its first Game 7 of these playoffs as the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks look to wrap up their series. Elsewhere, the Atlanta Hawks will kick off their second round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.