The decision was reached following Harden analyzed his right hamstring before tipoff in Barclays Center. He was upgraded from out to questionable a few hours before the decisive matchup.
League sources told ESPN and The Athletic which Harden pushed for a chance to play and participated in the Nets’ shootaround Tuesday morning. The All-Star guard noticed improvement in his right hamstring, prompting the team to upgrade his status.
Harden then tested his injured hamstring in pre-game warmups and didn’t suffer any setbacks, clearing his path to play.
“I’m not sure the amount of risk,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said before the game. “I think it is James’ decision. He wants to play. Ultimately, he wants to play. He’s been pushing.”
The 31-year old Harden experienced right hamstring tightness when he attempted to lob a pass Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and centre Brook Lopez at the opening moment of the Nets’ Game 1 win over Milwaukee on June 5. After lobbing the ball, Harden landed and immediately grabbed at his right hamstring.
He eventually left the floor and retreated to the Nets’ locker room, and he stayed out before his activation Tuesday.
The Nets are tied 2-2 at the Eastern Conference Semifinals together with the Bucks and are planning to be without star guard Kyrie Irving — who lasted a ideal ankle sprain in Game 4 — to the remainder of the second-round series, according to ESPN. The team has yet to rule Irving outside past Game 5.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for 8: 30 p.m. EDT in Barclays Center at Brooklyn.