With the Houston Rockets facing a three game deficit to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs, it’s time for James Harden to step up to the challenge and carry the Rockets to a win like a a true MVP candidate should.
Harden developed into one of the NBA’s best players after the Thunder traded him just days before the regular season, averaging career highs of 25.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists in his first season as a full time starter. Harden’s shooting percentage of .438 left a little to be desired, but he led the NBA in free throw attempts and got to the line an outstanding 10.2 times per game, making .851 of those attempts.
But so far in the first round, Harden has scored 28.7 points per game, but his shooting percentage has dropped to .369 from the field and he’s shooting a terrible .190 from three, although he is getting to the charity stripe 14 times per game. Harden will need to improve on his accuracy for the Rockets to register even a victory over the Thunder, especially with fellow starting guard Jeremy Lin suffering from a chest injury.
Oklahoma City is without Russell Westbrook for the rest of the postseason, but with Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and company they still are a formidable team. Houston has one more game with home court advantage, and they will need a MVP-caliber performance from their franchise player Harden if they are to win at home and extend the series at least one more game. Harden has the offensive ability and drive to carry the Rockets, but it’s time for him to put it into action on the biggest stage of the season.