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James Harden exits injured after 43 seconds of Brooklyn Nets' clash with Milwaukee Bucks, doesn't return

The NBA Playoffs action continues live on Sky Sports throughout Sunday, starting with Hawks @ 76ers Game 1 from 6pm and Mavericks @ Clippers Game 7 from 8.30pm.

James Harden was injured less than a minute into Saturday night's clash
Image: James Harden was injured less than a minute into Saturday night's clash

James Harden left less than a minute into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Saturday night with a right hamstring injury, potentially dealing a huge blow to Brooklyn's championship hopes.

Harden appeared to grab at the hamstring on a drive to the basket on Brooklyn's first possession against Milwaukee. The Nets called a timeout 43 seconds into the game and Harden went to the locker room.

The Nets announced after the first quarter that he wouldn't return to the game.

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Harden missed 20 games because of problems with the same hamstring in the second half of the season, including a pair of losses to Milwaukee in May. But he was healthy in time for the playoffs after he, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were able to play together just eight times during the regular season.

Despite Harden's early exit, the Nets recorded a 115-107 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"You know we got a lot thrown at us this year, so we were, in a sense, well trained for this event," Nets coach Steve Nash said after the game. "But you never want to see that for someone like James, who is such an important player and such an incredible player and cares so much.

"I'm heartbroken for him. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if he's playing the next game, if he's out. I have no idea. But I'm heartbroken for him that he had to miss tonight."

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant during Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series 2:48
Highlights of the opening game in the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets

The play the injury occurred on was innocuous - a simple drive against Bucks guard Jrue Holiday. But after Harden lofted a pass to the opposite corner, he landed and immediately grabbed at his right hamstring. Then, when play stopped after a couple of more trips up the court, Harden just walked off the court and straight into the locker room.

A team spokesperson later told ESPN that he went to get an MRI - results the Nets were still waiting for postgame.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant reacts after making a basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series 1:55
Kevin Durant dropped 29 points with 10 rebounds in the opening game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Bucks

"I didn't realise what had happened until he had started walking off the court, but we supposed to run [a] play and he wasn't in his spot and I looked at him, he was grimacing," said Kevin Durant, who had 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Nets to the win. "It just sucks. It sucks. It sucks because I want him to be out there.

"I know how much he cares. I know how much he wants to be in this moment. It sucks. Wishing him a speedy recovery. Keep him involved as much as possible. It's just a bad break."

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