The most awaited clash of the second round of the NBA playoff started with a bang on Saturday night as James Harden sustained an injury of the right hamstring at the very start of the Brooklyn Nets’ 115-107 win against the Milwaukee Bucks.

James Harden, who was a front-runner for the MVP award prior to missing twenty-one games in April and May because of a right hamstring injury, seemed to sustain the injury while moving towards the basket. The star grasped his right leg and then walked to the room after requesting a break from Steve Nash, Nets Coach. Before halftime, Brooklyn announced that Harden would not return for Game 1, and he left the Barclays Center early to get an MRI.

Nets player Kevin Durant said that he wasn’t aware of what had occurred until [Harden] began walking away from the court. He said that it was simply awful and he wanted to see him out there. Kevin stated that he is aware of how much he cares and how much he wants to be at this moment. He said he wished him a fast recovery and promised to keep him as engaged as possible. It was just a horrible break.

Harden averaged 7.9 rebounds, 24.6 points, and 10.8 assists in his first season with the Nets after being acquired in a blockbuster January deal from the Houston Rockets. During the regular season, Brooklyn, the East’s second seed, had gone 19-17 without James Harden and 29-7 with him.

However, Brooklyn soon recovered after Harden’s departure. Durant led the way with 29 points, 3 assists, and 10 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving chipped in with eight assists, five rebounds, and 25 points. The Nets were able to play at their normal pace and produce high-percentage shots against a Bucks defense that had smothered the Miami Heat in the first round.

Nash said that they have had a lot thrown at us this year, adding that the seriousness of Harden’s injury was unknown at the time of his press conference. He said that in some ways, we’re well prepared for this occurrence. That is the last thing one wants to see. Someone like James, who is such a terrific player, cares tremendously.

Brooklyn’s first-year coach noted that it was “difficult” to acclimate to life without Harden so early in the game and that he was proud of the players for not being rattled.

Irving said that when we see one of our brothers’ games stolen away, we feel for him. He further said that they convened in the huddle, ensured that everyone on the bench was aware of the situation, and then proceeded to play it out from there. He said that it went their way tonight, but regardless of what happens, they will feel his loss.