Rockets News

The Houston Rockets are just three games back of first place

By Michael Knight
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 27: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball defended by Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics in the second half at Toyota Center on December 27, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 27: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball defended by Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics in the second half at Toyota Center on December 27, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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After a poor start to the year, the Houston Rockets are within striking distance of first place. Their play as of late has been excellent and will need to continue with CP3 out for a couple more weeks.

The Houston Rockets are rolling, folks. They are winners of three straight in the absence of Chris Paul, all over playoff teams. They have won eight of their last nine games overall and have looked like their last year selves along the way.

They are also now just three games back of Golden State and Denver for the first seed in the West. Their high level of play has carried them in recent weeks back to being close to the top.

Last night’s win over the Boston Celtics was arguably the biggest one in the streak. It was a dominating 127-113 performance that saw James Harden continue his stretch of incredible games, dropping 45 points and 8 assists as he begins to force himself into the MVP conversation once again.

After the game, James Harden openly talked about his MVP candidacy, something he doesn’t often do in these years that he’s contended. He had an air of confidence when asked about the MVP that is nice to see from your best player:

"I receive a lot of hate. It won’t stop me from going out there and killing every single night, being that dog that I am. " – @JHarden13 pic.twitter.com/1ajcx3Db88

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 28, 2018

He certainly has a case. He is having to carry the Rockets at time for them to win and is averaging 39.2 points a game in the nine game stretch along with 8.2 assists on 44.7% shooting from the field and 40.7% from downtown.

Chance to take the No. 1 seed

Now is the time to make a run for the No. 1 seed for the Rockets. The West is so tough that it’s vulnerable, with the No. 1 and No. 14 seeds being separated by just 7.5 games.

Before the season, we got the chance to talk to Daryl Morey on his goals for the season. One thing that he emphasized was that getting the top seed is something that is very important. Having that home court advantage against the best teams in the league gives you that extra edge when you need it most.

Here’s the exact quote:

“I think the main thing is that getting the one-seed is important, so we’re going to be shooting for that again. I think to take down Golden State, which is arguably the best team that’s ever played NBA basketball, you’re probably going to need homecourt. We do think the one-seed is important, so we’ll be shooting for that.“

That top seed is now attainable whenever it didn’t seem likely for awhile. The consistent and strong play by the Houston Rockets is throwing them back into contention. If the Rockets look this good now, how good will they look when they are completely healthy?

The Rockets play the Warriors next Thursday on TNT. That will be a huge opportunity for the team to gain games back and take their spot.

Next. Reasons for optimism for the Rockets

Also, this team likely isn’t done making moves. They signed Austin Rivers late last week and that has worked wonders in his two games. They are also looking at someone like Kent Bazemore, who we’ll discuss once again later.

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