Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden’s performance in Tuesday night’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks certainly wasn’t on par for the NBA superstar, but he hopes his effort in Game 5 gave his team the boost it needed.
Harden played for 46 minutes, but shot 1-for-10 and while handing out eight assists and grabbing six rebounds. But the decision to return to play after initially being ruled out with a hamstring injury was about more than just offense.
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“Game five, I woke up and was like, ‘let’s go,’” Harden said after the game, via Nets Daily. “I tried to go out there and do the best I can. Hopefully, I gave my teammates some encouragement, some life. Obviously, I wanted to score the basketball and do what I normally do, but it is what it is. We win and we watch film, get our rest and prepare for game six.”
Teammate Jeff Green, who scored 27 points, took notice of Harden’s effort, pointing out that his performance on Tuesday should show everyone the greatness of Harden as a player.
“The injuries that he’s been through, to come back even from the Achilles to the hamstring to get back in this position, the world is witnessing, once again, who is the best player in the world,” he said.
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Even Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo commended Harden’s return amid a heated series.
“He’s the best player in the world right now and we’ve got to beat him as a team,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve got to guard him as a team. We’ve got to make him make tough shots like tonight. We’ve just got to keep doing our job and hopefully he’s going to miss.”
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Harden will return for Game 6 as the Nets look to close out the series on Thursday, ESPN reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.