James Harden went off Tuesday night time but once more, dropping forty two factors, grabbing six rebounds and allotting seven assists. He led his Houston Rockets to a one hundred fifteen-eleven win over the Portland Path Blazers, as his workforce solidified itself on the prime of the Western Convention.
With eleven video games remaining within the common season and the Golden State Warriors limping in the direction of the end line, the Rockets have supplanted the defending champs because the NBA’s greatest group. They’ve gained 23 of their final 24 video games and 30 of their final 33. So yeah, it’s truthful to say they’re rolling.
The Rockets have all however secured the highest seed within the West and that’s an enormous deal, as a result of they’re 27-6 at residence this season. That might be an unlimited benefit within the postseason.
Within the Bay Space, Stephen Curry’s ankle is appearing up, Andre Iguodala has a bum shoulder, Kevin Durant has injured ribs and Klay Thompson has a damaged thumb. Whereas the Warriors are coping with a ton of accidents, the Rockets are at full power and enjoying prefer it.
Houston is clearly led by Harden and Chris Paul, however there’s much more to the staff than that dynamic duo. Clint Capela is likely one of the NBA’s greatest younger bigs, Trevor Ariza continues to be a bought three and D man, Ryan Anderson can catch hearth from deep at any time and Eric Gordon is among the league’s greatest bench gamers. Then position gamers like P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Inexperienced can all present strong minutes.
The Rockets’ core of Harden, Paul and Capela has developed right into a “Massive Three.” Capela’s speedy emergence has made that attainable. He presently leads the NBA in area aim proportion (sixty five.2 %), is seventh in rebounds per recreation (10.9) and is sixth in blocks (1.eighty three per recreation), whereas setting profession-highs in factors (14.1), minutes (27.four) and PER (24.fifty eight).
In truth — because of Capela’s rise — Houston is the one NBA workforce with three gamers within the prime 12 in PER. Harden tops the league at 30.sixty seven, whereas Paul (24.sixty nine) and Capela (24.fifty eight) are eleventh and twelfth respectively. In the meantime, Harden (.302), Paul (.266) and Capela (.238) are all within the prime 4 leaguewide in win shares per forty eight minutes.
Clearly the Rockets have what it takes on the prime to win a title, nevertheless it’s their depth that makes them scary. They’ve a deep, gifted lineup that may step up in key conditions.
Everyone knows the playoffs are a unique animal than the common season, so this might all wind up being moot. Perhaps the Warriors will get wholesome and catch their second wind. In reality, the sensible cash is that they’ll determine issues out and attain the NBA Finals for the fourth-straight yr.
However as of proper now, the Rockets are the workforce nobody needs to play. They’re the most effective squad taking the courtroom on a nightly foundation, and if the playoffs began today, they’d be the heavy favourite to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.