The Rockets' James Harden says he won't get exhausted this postseason

Thunder/Rockets: Round 1 Schedule

NBA MVP Race: Harden

Harden had 22 triple-doubles and became the first player in National Basketball Association history to have 2,000 points (2,356), 900 assists (907) and 600 rebounds (659) in a single season. No one else's. And they know it. The Rockets claimed the last three series meetings, and despite several white-knuckle finishes should be emboldened by the fact that they led by double digits in all four games this season. Harden has the efficiency, the passing, the superior regular-season team. And I think, as people think about it a little bit, they are going to think much more than they do right now. If Harden doesn't get Roberson into foul trouble early, he risks having to deal with the quick reactions and length all night.

Look through all the advanced metrics in MVP debates, all the arguments about how good teams need to be, or how much the playoffs matter, or how much one on one would matter. If Westbrook wins the award, his team would have the fewest number of wins for an MVP in the modern era. Harden did the same for a group that won 55, essentially matching every accomplishment of Westbrook's with similar ones of his own. The Rockets are going to have to hold the Thunder to 110 points per game (if you can call it "holding") in order to win four games, but their best strategy is to deny Oladipo and Kanter the ball and funnel Westbrook towards the help while hoping that they can limit points in transition and on the glass. Robertson also did it in 1961-62. As exhibited throughout the season, it's tough to bet against Westbrook in these high-intensity moments, but the series will still swing on the help he receives and Roberson's cagey defense on Harden.

Westbrook has the freedom to shoot whenever he pleases. If the best players are being used more, they are going to have more opportunities to accumulate counting stats. Houston, specifically, has ridden the strategy to historic levels. Without James Harden, the Houston Rockets likely make it in as an eight seed in the Western Conference. Houston hit 19 of 56 on 3-pointers and finished 30-1 when scoring 120 points or more this season. "Transition, they do a great job of getting threes". Now facing off in the first round of the playoffs, the two superstars will look to extend their historically great seasons for a few more weeks.

Jackson spoke to the local media Friday for the first time since September, after the Knicks finished 31-51 in their fourth straight season out of the playoffs.

Everything in Houston goes through Harden.

There are a lot of scenarios at play here and the best one for Oklahoma City is this: Matchup Westbrook against Harden on the defensive end. Why?

It's a related approach for the two former teammates. It ranked 17th in points scored per possession.

And while the Rockets average more assists than the Spurs per game, the Spurs' assist-to-turnover ratio is better, among the best in the National Basketball Association.

"They are a very, very good offensive team", OKC coach Billy Donovan said.

So, I think what he's done has been marvelous.

The two don't talk much during the season, par for the course with Westbrook, who normally doesn't fraternize with players on opposing teams. Oklahoma City went 33-9 this season when Westbrook registered a triple-double and 13-26 when he didn't. Not even one of Houston's top 20 most used lineups this season had two of Nene, Clint Capela or Montrezl Harrell playing at the same time.

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