Sportress of Blogitude

James Harden: Rockets playing their best basketball at the ‘right time’

The Houston Rockets have been on a roll, and with the playoffs just around the corner, James Harden astutely pointed out Thursday that it’s the “right time” for the team to be hitting their stride.

The Rockets have won four straight heading into Friday’s game against the Knicks, but the team’s run has been going on for much longer. Houston has an NBA-best 18-4 record since the All-Star Break, and rank as the No. 2 team in offensive rating, defensive rating and net rating over those games.

With the Rockets (51-28) having only three games left on their regular-season schedule and currently settled into the No. 3 slot in the Western Conference, Harden believes the Rockets are running on all cylinders.

“Yeah, it’s the best we’ve played and it’s the right time,” Harden said, per The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani.

Harden of course has been the key to the Rockets’ winning ways all season. One of two favorites for MVP along with Milwaukee Bucks phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo, Harden may have the edge and could end up with consecutive MVP awards in light of how he now leads Antetokounmpo in three critical advanced stats: Player Efficiency Rating (PER), win shares and Value over Replacement Player (VORP).

Harden is also leading the NBA in points per game (36.3). Meanwhile, the Rockets superstar is second in the league in steals (2.1) and fourth in rebounds (6.5) for guards. His 2,723 total points with three games to play is the 12th-highest single-season total in NBA history.

Yet, it’s abundantly clear Harden’s brand of “Hero Ball” rubs some in the NBA community the wrong way, and that is said to trouble the Rockets star.

Still, it will be a neck-and-neck race between Harden and Antetokounmpo for MVP as the season wraps up, but odds are Harden is more happy with how the Rockets are playing down the stretch than he is over padding his MVP credentials.