Rachel Nichols has high expectations of Houston Rockets, James Harden

With four months of rest and a determined squad, the Houston Rockets are finding themselves on many people’s radar, including ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

The restart of the season is now just days away and the Houston Rockets are looking as locked-in as they’ve ever been. From make shifting their own workout space in their own hotel rooms to immediately incorporating James Harden into five-on-five drills, Houston is wasting no time getting prepared.

The Rockets are still awaiting the arrivals of Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute, which they’re expecting to be relatively soon, but they still have close to two weeks to get them back into the fold before the seeding games begin.

The way Houston has looked preparing for the restart has turned some heads in the media lately, with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols being the latest in that mix. Nichols joined SportsCenter on Saturday to share her thoughts on the Rockets as they look to capture that elusive NBA championship.

“The break helped not only James Harden,” started Nichols. “But guys like P.J. Tucker, who were getting really beat up through the season, especially when they switched to micro ball. His body got four months of rest.”

Nichols went on to elaborate on how the rest will particularly be important for James Harden, whose overuse in the regular season has caused him to run out of gas in the playoffs on more than one occasion.

“He’s seemed to run out of gas in the playoffs. That’s not an opinion — it’s just the numbers. The numbers have gone down every year in the playoffs.”

“If you’re a superstar and MVP, that’s not how you want them to go,” continued Nichols. “I asked him if he thought that four months of rest was going to make a difference — he said ‘absolutely’ and that his body feels incredible.”

There’s definitely a different feeling about these upcoming playoffs leaguewide due to the circumstances, but seeing the shape Harden is in and the overall demeanor of the Houston Rockets only adds to the excitement.

Anything can happen when the season tips back off on July 30th, and Nichols expects Houston to be one of the teams that start off hot: “In these first eight games, there should be some guys that are coming out of the gate hard and we expect Harden to be one of those guys,”