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James Harden, Kevin Durant on board to carry heavy workload again in Game 6

James Harden of the Nets celebrates against the

James Harden of the Nets celebrates against the Bucks in Game 5 of the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on Tuesday. Credit: Steven Ryan

MILWAUKEE — On the day after Kevin Durant scored a 49-point triple-double and James Harden gutted out 46 minutes with a heavily taped tight right hamstring during the Nets’ Game 5 victory over the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday night, coach Steve Nash said both stars survived their ordeal in good shape and are ready to go in Game 6 Thursday night at Fiserv Forum.

However, Kyrie Irving (sprained right ankle) will miss his second straight game and did not accompany the team to Milwaukee. So Nash could offer no assurances that Durant and Harden won’t have to attempt to carry the same workload for a second straight game.

"I think that’s something we have to feel out as we go," Nash said on Wednesday. "There is no championship if we don’t get out of this series. If it presents itself that we don’t have to overburden them, we’ be happy not to. But if we have to, we have to, and that’s just the nature of it."

Although Harden scored just five points on 1-for-10 shooting Nash praised his leadership and the spark he provided even though he physically is compromised. Bucks defender Jrue Holiday often picked him up full-court to force him to work more, and it’s possible the Bucks might work even harder in Game 6 to test Harden’s durability.

"I don’t know at all what James will look like for the next game compared to last night," Nash said. "But I think there are certain things he will feel more comfortable with just from having a game under his belt, having felt it out there. That can only make him more comfortable if he’s physically OK, and so far, he is.

"Maybe they will target him more. It’s not really what they do, it would be a departure in some ways. But they may, and we will be ready for that as well."

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