Nets don’t view James Harden’s eventual return as cure-all

With each passing day, the Nets’ time to get James Harden into games before the playoffs begin is dwindling.

He will miss his 16th straight game since straining his right hamstring April 5, Tuesday when the Nets attempt to avenge Sunday’s loss to the Bucks with a second straight game in Milwaukee.

Coach Steve Nash said he knows Harden can be a difference-maker in a potential playoff series against Milwaukee or other postseason opponents, but the Nets will have just six games remaining in the regular season after Tuesday’s contest.

“I’m not so much worried about what they know. For us, we have the luxury of talent. We have great players. We don’t have the luxury of time,” Nash said after Sunday’s loss. “That’s OK. We understand that, and we’ll work around that.

James Harden
James Harden talks to Blake Griffin during the Nets’ loss to the Bucks on Sunday.
NBAE via Getty Images

“James will give us a totally different dimension, but we don’t sit here and say, ‘Well, wait ’til James gets back.’ We try to solve the puzzle now.”

The Nets have gone 27-7 with Harden in the lineup since his acquisition from Houston in January — but just 9-9 with him sidelined.

“James will give us obviously something great to build on, but we can look at all the things that we did wrong [Sunday], and there were a lot of things where I thought we just weren’t sharp,” Nash said. “[If] we clean some of those things up, I think we give ourselves a better chance.”

Kevin Durant’s 42 points on Sunday gave him back-to-back games with at least 40 for the fifth time in his career, including once in the playoffs. He also became the third player in Nets history to score 40 or more in consecutive games played, joining Vince Carter (2005) and John Williamson (twice in 1978).

The Nets signed guard Mike James to a second 10-day contract after he averaged 6.2 points and 3.7 assists in 17.2 minutes per game in six appearances signing his first deal April 23.

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