What’s holding back the Houston Rockets from championship glory?

Houston Rockets James Harden Russell Westbrook (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden Russell Westbrook (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Yes, you read that correctly. James Harden and his postseason woes are the biggest reason the Rockets have failed to capture a championship during his prime. Many have compared James Harden to the NFL all-time great Peyton Manning regarding postseason struggles, but even Manning has two championships. It’s only a matter of time until The Beard gets his, right? People point fingers at D’Antoni for only caring about offense, but the blame can’t solely be on him if his franchise player didn’t show up for three consecutive playoffs.

In the 2016-17 playoffs, James Harden and the Rockets were eliminated in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs in six games. The closeout Game 6 became infamous for Harden’s collapse against a Spurs team without their star, Kawhi Leonard. Harden finished with 10 points, shooting 2-of-11 from the field to go along with seven assists and three rebounds. Also worth noting, Harden played 37 minutes and had six turnovers as well as a plus/minus of -28. Many felt Harden gave up in the middle of the 114-75 defeat.

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The Rockets made the Western Conference Finals the following year with newly-acquired Chris Paul and Harden proving to be a dynamic backcourt the rest of the league couldn’t handle throughout the regular season. The Rockets were up 3-2 against the reigning champs, the almighty Golden State Warriors.

Paul went down with an injury during Game 5, which caused him to miss Games 6 and 7. Despite the Rockets building a 17-point lead in the first quarter of Game 6, the Warriors came back to win 115-86. The Rockets went on a cold streak to close the game, only scoring nine points in the fourth quarter. James Harden shot 41 percent and had nine turnovers in that contest.

Who could forget the infamous 27 consecutive missed threes in Game 7? The Warriors won game seven 101-92 with Harden shooting 2-for-13 from 3-point range. It’s easy to see the Rockets making the NBA Finals and eventually winning the championship with a little more consistency from Harden.

Next: Will This Season Be Different?