Harden compares Thunder and Rockets
Oklahoma City made the playoffs in James Harden's first year there. The Rockets are trying to do the same in Harden's first year with Red Nation.
On Tuesday, James Harden described Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as his "brothers." During their first season together, the Thunder went 50-32, good enough for the eighth seed in the West. They wound up falling to the Lakers 4-2 in the first round.
The Rockets are currently 29-26, good enough for the eighth seed in the West.
"Different talent, different talent," Harden said when asked to compare the two teams. "But both of them work hard. Work hard and then try to compete every single night. My rookie year, we made the playoffs as the eight seed and we played against the Lakers as a one seed, so we've got a good opportunity (here)."
As far as how much making the playoffs meant to that Thunder team going forward, Harden said.
"Confidence level goes at an all-time high," Harden said. "You make the playoffs, each and every individual person on the team's swag goes up. That summer, they worked hard and tried to get better coming into the next year.
"I was a rookie, so I was just trying to find my way in the NBA. Now it's my fourth year, so I've kind of learned the ropes a little bit. I'm kind of a leader now and I have to lead all my guys, so it's definitely a different experience."
"It (making the playoffs) would definitely mean a lot," Harden said, referring to the Rockets. "Not only for me, but to our entire organization. All these younger players: to experience the playoffs, experience what it takes to win, and get to the playoffs, and then hopefully feed off that. That way, we all know how to work it and how hard it's going to be to get back to that spot."
Coincidentally, the Rockets' first game after the All-Star break as they push for the playoffs comes against Harden's former team. He views this as a playoff game.
"It IS like a playoff game," he said. "Especially for us. Every game's going to count. We can't afford to slip up and lose a couple in a row and think everything's good."
Harden knows. He's been there. And now, he's trying to bring that playoff fever over to the Rockets.