James Harden clearly wasn’t at full health in the Nets‘ Game 5 win over Milwaukee, and while he took a step forward in Thursday night’s Game 6, it still wasn’t enough, as the Nets fell to the Bucks 104-89 to send the series to Game 7.
Harden scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting and added seven assists and five rebounds, but the lingering effects of his right hamstring injury were apparent, as he was still without his typical explosion.
He improved on his Game 5 performance — when he shot just 1-of-10 and scored five points in 46 minutes — but Harden believes he needs to, and can, perform better in Saturday’s Game 7.
“It’s not even about rust, it’s about being able to move,” Harden said. “I think day by day I continue to get better. The last game, Game 5, was the first time that that I did any movement or things like that since I got hurt. Tonight was no different.
“I’m out there to do whatever it takes to win, and I’ve got to be better on both ends of the ball, which I will be in Game 7.”
But Harden wasn’t the only Net to have a subpar game in the Nets’ loss Thursday, as the team turned the ball over 16 times and made just 8-of-14 free throw attempts, compared to Milwaukee’s 23-of-28 performance at the line.
“We turned the ball over. We didn’t rebound the ball at a high clip,” Harden said. “We gave them too many transition opportunities or whatnot, so it’s things that we can control that we’ve got to be better at in Game 7.”
The Nets could still be without Kyrie Irving for Game 7 on Saturday, and most of the team’s starters have played a taxing amount of minutes in the series already, but the Nets still have a chance to close out the series with a win at home.
‘”With everything we’ve been dealt and have been through, we have the second seed for this particular reason,” said Harden. “We’ve just got to go out there and hoop at home, one game.”