James Harden is out indefinitely for Brooklyn (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- James Harden has been ruled out indefinitely following a setback with his hamstring injury
- The Nets’ big three have played in just seven games together since Harden arrived from Houston
- How does this injury news impact their title chances? Odds and analysis below
James Harden suffered a setback in his rehab from a hamstring injury. According to Nets head coach Steve Nash, they are ‘back to square one’ with the injury. Harden, a fringe MVP candidate before this absence, is out indefinitely.
Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have played a grand total of seven games together since they teamed up in Brooklyn. That tally includes the COVID-19 confusion game with Durant. The Nets’ collective talent is undeniable, but with only a month until the playoffs begin, it seems unlikely they will have much more on-court time together before the end of the regular season. They do, however, remain favorites in the NBA Championship odds.
Brooklyn is currently second in the Eastern Conference. Only the Utah Jazz have won more games against teams above .500.
2021 NBA Championship Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||+350|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+650|
Odds as of Apr 21 at DraftKings
The comparisons between the Clippers and Nets are obvious. There have been marquee regular season wins, and the roster is stacked with talent. Yet, there’s been limited time playing together in the regular season. Brooklyn, like the Clips, are going to head into the postseason still figuring things out.
James Harden suffered a setback with hamstring, Nets says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 20, 2021
The Clippers, of course, experienced an historic meltdown. Chemistry issues riddled them on and off court. The Nets are unlikely to run into off-court issues in the same way, but the on-court fit, the rotations, are not going to be fixed by the playoffs.
Seeding could prove important here. Where the Clippers were pushed hard by the Mavericks, Brooklyn could potentially have a very favorable first-round matchup to figure things out. There is clearly an accepted hierarchy on this team, too. The Clippers had tension throughout the locker room, but the relationships across the organization are seemingly solid, and particularly between the key players.
Still Need to See It
While it’s not an identical situation, there’s always a concern about a team which hasn’t shown us who they can be yet. There have been glimpses of it. Irving has deferred to Harden. Harden has prioritized playmaking and allowed Durant and Irving to carry the scoring burden.
Still, though, the greatness of this Brooklyn team is only a theory at the moment. The Clippers were picked for the title by many last year on what they could be. We are veering into similar territory with the Nets.
While the focus is naturally on them as a postseason threat, these absences could be important down the stretch. The Bucks could yet catch them for the two seed. As it stands, finishing third would mean a matchup with the surging Boston Celtics. Even being second could mean the Miami Heat in the first round, followed by the Bucks and then the Sixers. This could be a brutal path to the NBA Finals, and a path with little margin for error.
Steer Clear as Bettors
The sheer offensive talent of this roster could prove too much. Even without Durant and Harden, they have been picking up wins, including an impressive performance to see off the Pelicans on Monday. They are getting great minutes out of Jeff Green and Joe Harris, which might be the duo who share the floor with the three stars in crunch time.
It’s at the defensive end where a lack of time together could prove more problematic. Steve Nash has been unable to experiment with his rotations. This level of offensive brilliance will find a way to make it work, but getting the defense to be functional will take more time. That’s time they might not have if they end up with a difficult route through the Eastern Conference.
This price is too short for a team who have played so few minutes together. The Bucks at +750 and Sixers at +1200 both represent better bets from the East.
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.