As the Houston Rockets begin their post all-star break playoff push, they will be looking to reverse their fortunes against the defending western conference champions, Oklahoma City Thunder. In the previous two games against the Thunder, the Rockets have not performed well, getting blown out in both match ups.
Coming off of a 15 point performance in the all-star game, James Harden is looking to finish the season the same way that he started it. Just prior to the all-star break, Harden had averaged 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in the last four games, but missed the final game before the break, in what turned out to be a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets dropped three out of their last five games.
But the break might just be exactly what the Rockets needed to recharge their batteries. As the unofficial host of all-star weekend, Harden played a big role, first being the head coach for the west squad in the celebrity game, taking part in the Sears Shooting Stars competition, and finally suiting up for the all-star game itself. It also allowed Harden to reunite with former teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Durant scored a game-high 30 and Westbrook added 14 as they both played on the same team with Harden for the first time since losing Game 5 of last year’s NBA finals to Miami.
“I miss those guys,” Harden said. “Just being with them every day, when you leave somewhere, you definitely are going to miss them. This weekend was good for us just to see each other and catch up on good times.”
The sentiment will be put aside Wednesday night, as the Thunder have shot over 50 percent combined in the first two games, while holding the Rockets to 40 percent. The Rockets have to also find some sort of solution on defense, as they have allowed an average of 109.3 points to their last six opponents, all of them scoring over 100 points.
The bright side for the Rockets is that they have won four straight games at home, and 11 of their last 14. The only team to beat Houston at Toyota Center by at least double digits are the Thunder, when they cruised to an easy 124-94 win on December 29th.