3. Harden overcomes illness against OKC Thunder in 2013
When the Houston Rockets acquired James Harden heading into the 2012-13 season, Rockets Nation didn’t know what to expect from the former Oklahoma City Thunder sixth man. The Rockets mortgaged their future in the trade, as they dealt multiple first-round draft picks along with Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb to acquire Harden.
The 2012 Sixth Man of the Year was coming off an NBA Finals appearance in which many believed he underperformed, as his play was much different than the previous round against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. During OKC’s duel with the Spurs, Harden was second on the Thunder in scoring with 18.5 points on 60.9 percent from long-range, which is a far cry from the 12.4 points he averaged during the Finals and a major drop off from the 31.8 percent he made from downtown.
Harden also had a true shooting percentage of 64.1 percent during the series against the Spurs, compared to 52.9 percent during the Finals. OKC GM Sam Presti ultimately dealt Harden to the Rockets, as Harden and Presti weren’t able to agree to terms on a long-term deal, because Presti gave Harden an hour to sign a less-than-max deal.
The Rockets had missed the postseason in the three years prior to Harden’s arrival and were in need of The Beard to change that. Harden instantly made an impact, as the Rockets secured the eighth spot in the Western Conference during the 2012-13 season with the addition of Harden.
This drew a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were then led by current Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook. After four games into the series, the Rockets found themselves down 3-1 to the Thunder heading into Game 5.
With the Rockets facing elimination, they were dealt untimely news prior to the fifth game of the series, as Harden became ill and was unable to sit through the team’s shootaround, which was the last thing the Rockets needed. But Harden rose to the occasion in spite of his health being compromised, and helped the Rockets live to see another day.
Harden had arguably his best game of the series, as he scored 31 points on just 16 shots, which led to a field goal percentage of 62.5 percent, which was a series-high. The Beard also made 77.8 percent of his treys, which was also the best clip he made all series.Harden did a significant amount of damage in the third quarter, as he didn’t miss a shot while scoring 12 points in the third period, which was a team-high.
Despite battling flu-like symptoms, Harden had a true shooting percentage of 85.2 percent, which was a game-high, while also posting an effective field goal percentage of 84.4 percent, which was also a game-high. These were both the best marks of the series for the Houston Rockets star, as he wasn’t bothered in the slightest by the illness.
Next: No. 2