It’s been a fun run, but all good things must come to an end.
When Chris Paul went down, we looked at Houston’s upcoming schedule and saw nine straight games against playoff teams, with most of those being teams at the top of their respective conferences. I’ll admit that I wondered (internally and aloud) if the Rockets could win three of those nine games. To me, 3-6 against this murderer’s row would have been more than fine.
Well, you know by now that the Rockets have won all five of their games in that stretch so far, behind the otherworldly play of James Harden and the arrival of Austin Rivers via signing and Nene via not being injured anymore.
Heck, I complained that “James Harden doing everything” wasn’t a viable strategy because no one in the NBA can win consistently by themselves (unless it’s LeBron James in the East). With Paul hurt, I thought that Harden would shoulder more of the load, but would run out of gas in fourth quarters as defenses kept throwing the kitchen sink at him.
Until the Memphis game, Harden looked untouchable. Even in the Memphis game, he picked up a triple double despite looked completely exhausted in the fourth quarter. It’s safe to say that maybe this incredible run is finally starting to catch up to him.
If Gregg Popovich were coaching the Rockets, my guess is that he would find a way to sit Harden tonight. Eric Gordon is still day-to-day with a knee contusion and James Ennis III is questionable. The Golden State Warriors are good enough to crush anyone even at full-strength. Why give them the satisfaction of beating James Harden?
Well, mostly because James Harden won’t give up games. Honestly, I’m not sure even Pop could talk Harden into sitting for a game. So he’ll play for sure.
The Warriors are the Warriors. There’s not much I can say about them at this point that you don’t already know. They shoot well, they defend well, they pass well, etc. They’re healthy again (outside of DeMarcus Cousins, obviously) and ready to reclaim their spot atop the Western Conference. There’s no rest advantage tonight, as both teams last played on Monday night.
Tip-off is at 9:30pm CT on TNT