How will the Spurs stop Harden?
It's only natural to assume James Harden will attract the Spurs' top defensive option, Kawhi Leonard, when the Rockets play San Antonio on Friday.
This represents something different from any previous time the Rockets have played the Spurs this season.
For one thing, Leonard missed 18 games earlier this season with a quadriceps injury. This stretch included both Spurs matchups against Houston.
For another, Harden did miss the last game against the Spurs on December 10 with a right ankle injury, when San Antonio needed overtime to defeat the Rockets 134-126.
Both players have made significant recent impacts.
Harden has scored at least 30 points in three of his last four games. He's averaging just under 30 points during the Rockets' five-game winning streak. He's fourth in the league in scoring at 25.8 points a contest.
In Leonard's three games back from injury, he has 10 steals. Against Toronto on Wednesday, he helped to hold DeMar DeRozan 10 points below his average at eight points on 3-9 shooting. DeRozan had also been coming off four games where he averaged 18.8 points.
It should be noted the Spurs also have Danny Green, who's also known for his strengths on the defensive end (and recent hot three-point shooting).
Of course, in Harden's one game against the Spurs this season on December 7, with Green in the lineup but no Leonard, Harden was able to put up 29 points in three quarters before sitting out the fourth due to the fact that the Rockets were blown out that night. But as far as Harden goes, he was virtually unstoppable that night.
On Friday, the Spurs will surely try to change that.