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Gary Harris first-round return for Nuggets teased by Michael Malone

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Guard Gary Harris missed all of the Denver Nuggets’ eight seeding games due to right hip strain. Head coach Michael Malone gave an update of the guard’s condition, noting that Harris’ return is “getting closer and closer.”

On Thursday, a day before Game 3 with the Utah Jazz, Malone shared the status of Harris. He added that they are hoping that the 25-year-old will suit up at some point in the series for the Nuggets.

“I think he’s getting in a really good place mentally and physically and it would be great to get him back at some point in this series if that’s possible,” Malone said, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Malone confirmed that Harris won’t play in Game 3. But he believes that the Nuggets guard is progressing along very well. Malone is well-aware that Harris has dealt with similar injuries before. And the physical healing is as important as the mental one.

“I definitely think Gary’s getting closer and closer, but I also don’t want to put any pressure and lead anybody along,” Malone said. “Gary Harris is not playing tomorrow. But he is taking steps in the right direction. I think more importantly, when you have an injury, yes you have the physical injury, the injury part of it, but there’s also a mental side, especially when you’re dealing with a guy like Gary Harris, who’s gone through many of these soft tissue injuries before.”

In 56 games (55 starts) in the regular season, Harris averaged 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. He shot 42 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep.