James Harden set to return for Nets clash with Warriors

After watching James Harden practice, Nets coach Steve Nash declared the guard would be ready to play Saturday at Golden State.

Nic Claxton, who should be returning to the Nets’ rotation, too, was more colorful.

“He looks like money,” the big man said of Harden after practice on Friday.

Harden will not have any limitations upon returning after a one-game absence because of hamstring tightness, Nash said, meaning the Nets will take on the Warriors with two of their three stars. Kevin Durant is out with a sprained left MCL, but Kyrie Irving, who is not able to play at home, will be able to suit up for the five-game road trip.

Harden had reported left hamstring tightness after the Nets lost to the Lakers on Tuesday in Brooklyn, then watched as his team lost at home to the Nuggets on Wednesday. Claxton was also out against Denver, sitting on the second end of the back-to-back after missing seven consecutive games with a left hamstring injury.

James Harden

The Nets should be much closer to whole, which will be important against first the Warriors and then the Suns. The five-game trip represents the longest stretch thus far Irving will be eligible to play.

“He’s still adapting to his game coming back,” Nash said after practice Friday. “We take for granted with him … how much time he’s off, and he comes back, and it looks like he’s never left.“But he’s still trying to find his game. His level’s so good that it’s hard to tell. But we can tell; he can tell. He knows that he’s not fully back yet.”

In seven games (four wins) since the Nets allowed the unvaccinated Irving to play in road games, he has averaged 23.4 points (on 50.4 percent shooting) with 5.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Nash played against Klay Thompson for three seasons before working with Thompson and the Warriors as a player-development consultant in 2015.

He has watched from afar as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history missed two full seasons recovering from a torn ACL and then a torn Achilles.

“Knowing Klay, it’s a little deeper one for me. I know how much he loves the game,To have him have back-to-back season-ending injuries, more or less, is devastating for him personally,” Nash said. “ … To see him back playing — where he needs to be, where he should be, where he wants to be — is a beautiful thing.”

“And then, of course, the game of basketball needs and wants to see him out there every night.”

Thompson is coming off the best of his eight games this season, in which he shot 9-for-16, including 5-for-9 from 3-point range, and scored 23 points in a win over the Timberwolves on Thursday.

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