NBA playoffs 2021: Harden says 'my impact isn't about stats'

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Returning Brooklyn Nets star James Harden says his impact should not be measured on the stats sheet ahead of the NBA playoffs.

Harden joined the Nets from the Houston Rockets in January but missed five weeks with a hamstring injury, before returning to action last week.

The 2018 NBA MVP came off the bench to play 26 minutes and add 18 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists in his return game last week in a 128-116 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

He offered a more modest return with five points, five rebounds and seven assists from 25 minutes in Saturday's win over the Chicago Bulls, before being rested for Sunday's victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I thought winning was all that matters?" Harden said on Wednesday. "When I was doing the stats and putting up the numbers, it wasn't good enough.

"At some point we've got to figure out what we're talking about. But it's all about winning.

"My impact doesn't have to show up on the stat sheet for us to win. I think my job as a leader is to make sure everybody's playing well. If I'm doing that, I can focus on myself last. That's not a problem at all."

The Nets are among the favourites to win the 2020-21 NBA title but first will take on the Boston Celtics in the playoffs first round starting Saturday.

Harden was wary of Celtics star Jayson Tatum who scored 50 points in their play-in game victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

"One thing we can’t have is let a guy score 30, 40 on us comfortably," Harden said.

"He scores in bunches and scores from all over the court."