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[SBNaton] Harden & the Rockets Validate Themselves in Defeat

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by RoxBeliever, May 22, 2015.

  1. RoxBeliever

    RoxBeliever Member

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    More love from Tom Ziller


    Harden takes stretches off on offense. He'll float on the perimeter a bit, watch the play develop with a drive or a post-up, and do the same the next trip down. The Rockets offense is so mediocre when this happens, but it's also understandable. Harden carries such a load and has to work so hard for his numbers that doing it persistently is unsustainable. No one else in the league outside of Russell Westbrook has carried such a heavy burden in 2015. Eventually, Harden gets the ball and runs his masterful, probing style for a few possessions in a row, almost assuredly getting lots of points out of it.

    The margin for error for Harden and the Rockets is much smaller. A few defensive miscues means a Warriors run. Those stretches without the ball in Harden's hands were basically doom for Houston in Game 2. At times, you get that feeling that the Rockets aren't supposed to be here.

    That was the case all season, too. You'd look at the standings, look at Howard's streak of DNPs and wonder how long the illusion could last. Then it's the middle of April and Houston is claiming the No. 2 seed in a brutal conference, winning a division that sent all five of its teams to the playoffs. Then it's Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals with 30 seconds left and Houston is down a single bloody point to the 67-win Warriors. This is what Harden and the Rockets have done all year long.

    There was a sense that Harden and the Rockets were a shell game, that their threes-and-frees offense is a loophole opened wide and that their defense would crack when the competition improved. The Rockets didn't manage to steal a win in Oakland, but they came so close that it's impossible to believe Houston and Harden aren't real any longer. The Rockets are as legitimate as anyone. Harden deserved the MVP votes he received and then some.

    The Golden State faithful chanted "o-ver-rat-ed" at Harden earlier in the series. By the end of Game 2, that sentiment was replaced with relief that Harden finally fouled something up. So much for a Warriors' cakewalk.

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