James Harden Bounces Back From Injury, Will Start in Game 5 vs. Bucks

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Nets guard James Harden will start in the pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday against the Bucks, ESPN's Malika Andrews first reported.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski initially broke the news that the Brooklyn star would play minutes before the team announced Harden would start. 

The Athletic's Shams Charania first announced Tuesday that the star planned to play, barring any setbacks. Harden was upgraded from doubtful to questionable early Tuesday afternoon. On Tuesday morning, the team upgraded him to doubtful after previously ruling him out on Monday night.

On Monday evening, the Nets also ruled out Kyrie Irving for Game 5.

As previously reported by Wojnarowski, Harden tested his hamstring in shootaround, and throughout the process, has been determined to try to find a way to get cleared to play.

Harden has played just 43 seconds in Brooklyn's series against Milwaukee, quickly exiting Game 1 due to right hamstring tightness. He averaged 27.8 points and 10.6 assists in Brooklyn's first-round win over the Celtics.

Irving suffered a right ankle sprain in Sunday's Game 4 loss, leaving Kevin Durant as the lone healthy member of Brooklyn's Big Three. Nets coach Steve Nash said Sunday Irving's injury does not impact the timetable of Harden's potential return. 

"I don't want to rush [Harden] back and jeopardize doing something worse, or making this a long-term injury," Nash said. 

Each of the Nets' three stars has missed significant time this season. Durant, Harden and Irving logged just 202 minutes together during the regular season, scoring an impressive 119.6 points per 100 possessions in the small sample.

The Bucks tied the second-round series at two games apiece on Sunday. Tip-off for Tuesday's Game 5 is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET. 

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