James Harden ‘good to go’ in Game 3 despite eye injury
The Houston Rockets need to win Game 3 if they have any chance of climbing out of an 0-2 hole to beat the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals. Needless to say, pulling off that difficult feat would have been something close to impossible if James Harden was hindered by the eye injury he suffered in the Warriors’ win on Tuesday.
Good news: According to Mike D’Antoni, the reigning MVP is “good to go” for Saturday’s crucial contest at Toyota Center.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni says guard James Harden is “good to go” tonight after his eye injury.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 4, 2019
Harden was inadvertently hit in the face by Draymond Green just over five minutes into the first quarter of Game 2, leaving him with contusions in both eyes and a laceration on the inside of his left eyelid that was briefly bleeding. Though he returned to the game shortly after the incident, Harden said he could “barely see” and was frequently caught squinting and shielding himself from the bright lights of Oracle Arena.
No one would have known Harden was experiencing such discomfort based on his numbers, though. He had 29 points, six rebounds, and four assists in Game 2 on 9-of-19 shooting overall and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Despite those solid statistics, it’s clear Harden wasn’t quite himself on Tuesday, deferring to teammates on more frequent occasion than normal given the heightened stakes of the postseason.
Now that he’s fully healthy, don’t expect Harden to play with such relative passivity again. The Rockets need to win both games at Toyota Center if they want a realistic chance of dethroning the champions, and their surest way of doing so is by virtue of Harden lighting up the scoreboard.