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Daily Rocket Science: Harden’s Help

Dec 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) talks with center Clint Capela (15) during a timeout in the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) talks with center Clint Capela (15) during a timeout in the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Rockets are extremely dependent on James Harden’s production, but he isn’t the sole contributor on the team.

As of late, members of the Beard’s supporting cast have made a name for themselves. In the Houston Rockets’ convincing win over the Thunder in game one, Patrick Beverley was the second best player on the court, for instance. In today’s Daily Rocket Science, we’re going to take a look at a couple of Houston’s standouts who aren’t named James Harden.

But first, a reminder that the Rockets are Harden’s team. Trevor Ariza wrote for The Players’ Tribune about why the Beard is the rightful MVP, giving props to his on-court play and his off-court leadership. Harden said it was one of the best things anyone had ever done for him.

"But one of the most underrated things about James is his maturity level. He doesn’t think he knows everything. Superstars usually think they do. I get that … it’s often what makes them so great — they trust the instincts that got them to the top. But James is different on that level … he’s willing to question his own understanding of the game. He admits that he doesn’t know it all. By moving to the point, James showed that he’s willing to make personal sacrifices to make us a winning team."

Okay, now onto the discussion at hand. A lot of people are just now realizing Patrick Beverley’s importance to the Rockets’ organization. His defense and efficient shooting earned him credit from pundits everywhere, including from Scott Cacciola of the New York Times. He wrote that Bev made a perfect advertisement Sunday night for his youth basketball camp, Camp Lockdown, with his tough defense on Russell Westbrook.

"Not a lot of guys in the N.B.A. want to defend,” said Bibby, whose cousin played 14 seasons in the league. “When you’ve got a guy like Westbrook who can score 40 points on any given night and you’ve got a guy like Patrick Beverley who says, ‘Hey, I’m going to step up to that challenge for this entire series,’ that takes a load off of a lot of people.” Mike Bibby"

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Clint Capela is another player who’s stepped up as of late. The young big man was thrust into a starting role this season after Dwight Howard left, and he’s embraced it. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle sat down with the several people within Houston’s organization to discuss his expanded role and how he’s handling it.

"“He fits exactly what we need, and he’s getting better at it all the time,” Rockets coach said. “He’s a great pick-and-roll guy, and he has that vertical spacing that Nene doesn’t quite give. So he’s a perfect complement to James’ game. We can exploit that. He’s getting much better at shooting foul shots. He’s getting better at gathering and finishing.” Mike D’Antoni"

The Rockets didn’t get a good performance out of Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, or Ariza in game one, but it didn’t matter. Houston has enough players on the roster who can step up when necessary to make things happen. Look for more excellent play from Harden’s supporting cast in game two of the first round.

Next: NBA Playoffs: Complete First Round Predictions

Game two starts at 7:00 CT on Wednesday, so tune in to see which players give Harden the best help.

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