James Harden was forced out of a long stretch of Game 2 after catching an inadvertent poke in the eye from Draymond Green, but some members of the Golden State Warriors think he was putting on a bit of an act.
The Houston Rockets guard went down hard midway through the first quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday night after he and Green got tangled when going for a rebound. Replays showed that Green had accidentally poked Harden in the eye, and the Rockets star had to go back to the locker room for evaluation.
Harden was able to return with close to seven minutes remaining the second quarter, sporting a visible red mark on his eye. Harden’s vision appeared to be affected for the remainder of the game, as he repeatedly shielded his eyes from the bright arena lights. But he still managed to notch 29 points in the final 31 minutes of the game.
Despite the visible injury, some members of the Golden State Warriors think that Harden was exaggerating the extent of the injury.
“There are a few players in the [Warriors] locker room that aren’t buying the whole James Harden’s eye being extremely hurt,” noted Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “They were talking about some of the shots he was shooting during the game and then he gets to the free throw line and is squinting like he can’t see.”
There seemed to be little question of whether Harden was actually hurt. As USA Today noted, Harden’s eye was even more visibly red in the days after the injury, with the entire left corner of his left eye bright red.
Harden had told reporters this week that the pain has decreased, and while he still had some difficulty looking into bright lights, the eye is expected to be better by the time the Rockets take the floor again on Saturday.
When asked if there was any chance he might miss the game, Harden was adamant that he would be on the floor.
“If I played barely seeing last game, what makes you think I’m gonna sit out?” Harden told reporters, via NBC News. “When you got blurry vision and you can’t see, it’s really difficult.”
Despite the injury, James Harden will likely be on the floor for the majority of the pivotal Game 3 in Houston. A Warriors win would give the team a likely insurmountable 3-0 lead in the series, and the Rockets will need the most out of their star player.