Why the Rockets should rest Harden and Capela vs Portland

James Harden #13 and Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
James Harden #13 and Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With James Harden and Clint Capela each drawing questionable tags heading into tonight’s game versus the Portland Trail Blazers, here’s why the Houston Rockets would be wise to rest them both.

The Houston Rockets have essentially two key components of their core with a questionable tag heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, which isn’t necessarily the best timing considering that we’re in the meat of the season as it pertains to playoff seeding.

Although the Rockets have won 29 of the first 46 games of the season, they’ve lost many games they should have won. This obviously places more importance on each game down the stretch, especially if they want to get home court advantage for at least one series.

In spite of that, the Houston Rockets should rest Clint Capela and James Harden in Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, especially since neither of them are fully healthy. Capela is nursing a heel injury which forced him to miss Monday night’s game against the Utah Jazz, and Harden is nursing an injury of his own as well. Although both players are crucial for the Rockets, the recent victory over the Utah Jazz is proof of why they should rest both players, because they have the personnel to compete without Harden and Capela.

In the absence of Capela, the Rockets can turn to up-and-comer Isaiah Hartenstein, even though Mike D’Antoni rarely does. This could force D’Antoni’s hand as it pertains to playing Harty, which would be a good thing for the Rockets. The Houston Rockets also have additional options aside from Harty, as MDA has recently turned to the small ball lineup quite a bit, which generally puts PJ Tucker at center.

As it pertains to Harden, he’s certainly not been his usual self, which begs the question of whether he’s been dealing with an injury all along. Although it’s purely speculation, there has to be something plaguing Harden, as he’s averaged 23 points per game on 13.6 percent from 3-point range over the course of the last five games.

In spite of Harden’s struggles, it hasn’t been all bad for the Rockets, thanks to Russell Westbrook returning to his MVP-level play. Over the last six games, Westbrook has averaged 33.8 points per game and has led the Rockets in scoring during each game. It’s clear The Brodie has found his niche in D’Antoni’s offense, which is perfect timing considering the struggles we’ve seen from Harden.

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Aside from just Russ, we’ve seen proof of how Eric Gordon has returned to his former self, as evident by his masterful 50-point performance on Monday night against the Jazz. If Harden and Capela are both injured, the Rockets should continue to allow them the necessary time to heal, especially considering the fact that we’re only in January and they will be heavily relied upon down the stretch, not to mention the postseason.