NEW YORK – Brooklyn Nets goalie James Harden has said he’s regaining confidence but his attacking game is limited right now as he returns from an offseason spent rehabilitating his hamstring injury .
Harden’s slow start to the season continued on Wednesday night when he finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in Brooklyn’s 106-93 loss to the Miami Heat at Barclays Center. The 2017-18 MVP has scored 15 points or less in three straight games for the first time since the 2011-12 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
âI’m just getting more confident, aggressive,â Harden said after shooting 4v12. âAnd it gets better with every game. As much as I want to go back to, you know, [scoring] 30 and 40 points, I can’t do that [right now]. As much as I want, of course, I would love to. “
Harden’s hamstring injury in the second half of last season severely limited him in the playoffs. Coming cautiously, Harden is averaging 16.6 points per game this season, down from the 24.6 points per game he averaged last season.
âI haven’t had a chance to play pickup or anything this summer,â said Harden. âEverything was in rehab for three months, from a level 2 injury that happened three times in a season. So this is my fifth game of trying to just play competitively against someone else. And as much as I want to rush the process and be back to the strapping and killing, [have to] take your time.”
Like Harden, the Nets start slowly without Kyrie Irving. They fell to 2-3 after being hammered on the offensive glass. Miami grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and topped the smaller Nets 31-4 in second-chance points.
Steve Nash preached patience by experimenting with lineups and rotations as the Nets adjust without Irving. Brooklyn playmaker Irving is not with the team until he complies with New York City’s vaccination mandate and receives at least one vaccine so he can participate in home games at New York. The Nets decided not to make Irving a part-time player and just play in road games outside of New York.
Brooklyn’s three losses resulted in an average of 17.3 points.
Kevin Durant, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss, was asked what the Nets were missing offensively. âI know what you want me to say.â¦ Yeah, we miss Kyrie,â Durant said, adding that he enjoys the effort and defense he sees from the Nets. “We do. He’s part of our team.
âBut for the most part we’ve made some great shots, we’ve gone into the painting. It’s just about taking them down. I think they will come.â
Harden says this is unfamiliar territory for him, coming back from a major injury and having to be patient with his attack.
âMy career, I have been blessed,â said Harden. âJust not having surgery or whatever. So this whole process last year was like frustrating and exhausting.â¦ It was exhausting for me to know that I couldn’t be myself and be out there. the ground and be the player that I am [at the end of last season].
“But I’m finally getting back to it slowly. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. But it’s going to happen. But you have to keep fighting, and I will.”