Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – James Harden has fallen hard on his left wrist twice in the last week and a half. It has clearly bothered him. It may not ALWAYS show up in the box score, but if your watching these games, it is clearly a discomfort that he has tried to fight through.
The good news is, he doesn’t have to anymore.
“Ice treatment ready to go,” Harden said following the Rockets loss to the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night.
Harden still finished the game with another triple-double, 24 points 13 assists and 11 rebounds grabbed him his 20th of the season.
There is no question that he’s had an MVP-type season.
According to BasketballReference.com, Harden began the week with a 42.8 percent probability to win MVP. No one else is close.
He’s done things this season that no one has ever done by jamming up up the stat sheet with 50-point triple-doubles, consecutive 40-point triple-doubles. Harden joined both Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek as the only players to amass 2,000 points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds in multiple seasons.
Most importantly, Harden has done all of those things, while LEADING HIS TEAM to its 3rd 50-plus win season in 4 years in Mike D’Antoni’s first year as head coach.
If anyone thinks Harden has to play ALL 82 games to win the MVP this season, they’re not watching the games and Harden himself has to understand that.
This season cannot be about the MVP right now. The Rockets are entrenched as the #3 seed in the Western Conference. They aren’t a going anywhere. The only thing that is in flux at the moment, is the jockeying for position behind them. Utah is currently #4, the Clippers are #5 and the Thunder are the #6.
Two and a half games separates Utah and Oklahoma City entering play Thursday night.
With less than 10 games remaining for those 3, whom the Rockets face in the first round is still anybody’s guess.
We can debate all we want to about who the more favorable matchup would be for the Rockets, but they, like the rest of the powers that be in both the Western and Eastern conferences, are only as strong as their best player.
Yea, I know where you thought I was going, but at this point in the season, that old saying, ‘your only as strong as your weakest link,’ is out the window.
The Rockets aren’t going anywhere without James Harden.
They sure as hell aren’t going to go very far with an injured James Harden.
He needs to rest.
Not for fear of losing the MVP race. Not because it could start a firestorm of criticism given the recent debate in the NBA of star players resting in big games, but rest for the betterment of the team.
Get the wrist right.
The Rockets have 8 games remaining heading into Thursday night’s contest with the Portland Trailblazers.
Yes that game is a nationally televised game on TNT, and yes it is the first night of a back to back, which will conclude with a rematch against the Golden State Warriors for another nationally televised contest Friday night.
The competitor in Harden doesn’t want to rest either one. The competitor in Harden, if he were to rest one of those two games, likely wouldn’t sit against Golden State given their recent loss to the Warriors on Tuesday.
We would all like to see Harden drop 40 and fill up the stat sheet and walk out with a win Friday night.
We would also like to see this Rockets ball club at full strength, making a legitimate title run for the first time since 2009.
(Man! If not for Yao Ming breaking his foot! Although you do remember Yao turning around in the tunnel in LA, returning after he’d spent what seemed like an eternity on the floor grimacing in pain, scoring 8 points in the final 3 1/2 minutes, which made all the difference in game 1 of the Western Semifinals, Rockets won 100-92 – the Rockets would go on to lose that series in 7 games after Yao went down for good in game 3).
To do that, Harden should rest while he can. The only nationally televised games the Rockets NEED him gritting out injury are the ones next season.
The post season that is.