Due to a hamstring injury, James Harden will miss Game 3 of the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks series. The Nets hold a 2-0 series lead after winning the first two games in Brooklyn, including a 39-point monstrous victory over Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo.
This will be the second game in a row Harden sits out after injuring his hamstring in the opening minute of Game 1. Harden played for only 43 seconds on Friday before heading to the locker room with the hamstring injury. Tightness persisted and he missed Game 2 on Monday. Considering how the Nets outplayed the Bucks without Harden in the first two games, there’s no rush for head coach Steve Nash to bring him back.
Game 3 will be the first of two games in Milwaukee on Antetokounmpo’s home turf. If there’s ever a time for the Bucks to mount a comeback, it will be in Game 3 at Fiserv Arena against a Nets squad sans Harden. Veteran power forward Jeff Green, who started 38 games for the Nets this season and averaging nearly 11 ppg, will also miss Game 3. Green experienced plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the Boston series and missed five consecutive games.
Healing Harden’s hurt hammy
The Nets made the official announcement on Wednesday that Harden will miss Game 3 on Thursday evening. If the Nets were down 0-2, would Harden be playing? That’s a great question that they don’t have to answer because the Bucks shot themselves in the hoof with an 0-2 start.
The Nets won Game 1 by eight points and coasted to nearly a 40-point victory in Game 2. The 39-point margin of victory set a franchise record for the largest blowout in Nets’ postseason history.
“We just did what we were supposed to do, win two at home and we’ve got to see if this game is going to travel on the road for us and we’ve got to stay locked in,” Durant told The Athletic.
In two games without Harden, Durant averaged 31.5 ppg while Kyrie Irving averaged 23.5 ppg. Who needs Harden when Durant and Irving have been a deadly dynamic duo against the Bucks?
“We just have so many talented players on the offensive end that we fit well together, the pieces that are out there,” said Joe Harris. “You take away one option, and we still have a lot of counters.” Even without Harden, the Nets still averaged 120 ppg. That’s up against a revamped Milwaukee defense. Imagine how many points they could put up with Harden at 100%?
Harden injury betting impact
So far, Harden’s injury hasn’t really moved the needle in the betting markets. The Nets remain the consensus favorites in Las Vegas and at offshore books to win the 2021 NBA Championship. You can back the Nets at +155 odds at the Circa Sports Book in downtown Las Vegas.
The Nets are -530 odds to defeat the Bucks and advance to the East finals, according to a DraftKings series line prop bet. The Bucks are +360 dogs to rally back from an 0-2 deficit. The Nets are also the favorite to win the Eastern Conference at -286 odds. On the other side of the bracket, the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks are tied 1-1 after Joel Embiid dropped 40 points and evened the series.
Harden is actually one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals MVP. He’s second on the board at +590 odds, right behind Durant, who’s the favorite at +300 odds.
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