We all knew James Harden wasn’t going to get the bubble MVP. Despite being the best player in Orlando overall statistically and by the eye test, he simply didn’t have the narrative behind him, not to mention that after a 4-1 start in the bubble, the Rockets lost their last three games in a row (one of which The Beard didn’t play) to finish at 4-4.
But the NBA All-Bubble squads were announced this weekend, and Harden was named to the first team, alongside Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, and T.J. Warren.
Harden came out in the bubble tip-top form, going for 49 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks in a win over the Dallas Mavericks, and he didn’t slow down after that.
He finished his seven bubble games averaging 34.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.7 steals, and 1 block on 53.8 percent shooting from the field (yes, you read that correctly) and 37.8 percent from deep. He also finished with the highest cumulative game score of any player in the bubble according to basketball reference; yes, even higher than bubble MVP Lillard.
But the Rockets have much bigger fish to fry, as the postseason gets underway this week with a Game 1 date against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. And Harden will need to continue his red hot play, as Houston will start off the series shorthanded with Russell Westbrook sidelined by a thigh strain.
But kudos to actually getting the All-Bubble teams correct. I saw a lot of writers lazily putting Giannis Antetokounmpo as a first team All-Bubble, and he certainly wasn’t one of the five best players in Orlando. The Greek Freak did place on the second team, which is where he belongs in this instance, alongside Kawhi Leonard Caris LeVert, Michael Porter Jr., and Kristaps Porzingis.