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Will he or won’t he play? That’s the biggest question of the Brooklyn Nets’ series vs. the Milwaukee Bucks ahead of Game 5, and it centers on James Harden.
As of Monday night, Harden was listed as out. But then he tested his injured hamstring at shootaround, and Harden was upgraded to doubtful. And now, he hopes to play. It appears the determination as to whether Harden will play won’t be made until tipoff.
Harden played just the first 43 seconds of this series before reaggravating his hamstring injury. When it comes to trying to figure out lines and over-unders, Harden means a lot. He is averaging 23.2 points in the playoffs. The Nets will already be missing Kyrie Irving, out with a sprained ankle. So if Harden does play, you can be sure that will impact the total points and increase the Nets’ chances of winning. Currently, the series is tied at 2-all.
Now, even without Harden, the Nets have two big things working in their favor — Kevin Durant and homecourt advantage. But those two things alone may not be enough to overcome the Bucks, winners of two straight. So Harden’s status is key, as even a hobbled Harden is better than no Harden at all.
Now, either way, the Nets should at least be able to keep it close. So it would be wise to take them and the +4. As for the over-under of 218.5, forget it. Go with the under. The Bucks have been playing great defensively lately, limiting the Nets (with Durant and Irving) to 83 points in Game 3. So it’s a safe bet that, at the very least, the Bucks will battle to keep scoring low. The Nets, minus Irving and possibly Harden, may make that task easier.