The Houston Rockets are on a James Harden-fueled roll — they have won 11-of-12 and have vaulted up the standings from 14th to fourth. That includes a dramatic overtime win against the Golden State “we’re still the team to beat” Warriors on Thursday night.
So the Rockets are back, right? Well… the offense is going off because Harden is on a historic roll that even he cannot sustain for 45 more games. That has overshadowed that the Houston defense, while improved, is still middle of the pack during the streak. That’s good enough to win games in the regular season, but if the Rockets are dreaming of another deep playoff run it has to get better.
Or, more accurately, the Rockets need to get some defensive help. General Manager Daryl Morey told Sam Amick of The Athletic he knows that.
“Yeah, we’re for now (in terms of their mentality). So what do they say — buyers vs. sellers? We’re definitely a buyer. …I think we’ve been trying to win the title for a while, and we had a couple years before we got James where we probably didn’t have as much of a chance to win, where we were probably a little more future focused.
“But since James has been here we’ve been buyers at the deadline and hopefully something comes along that we think can help our chances to win the title. We’ve had a few years where we don’t, so we don’t force it, but we’re going to be looking for something to hopefully upgrade the team.”
That is not exactly a surprise.
And, that should be the Rockets’ mentality — this is Houston’s championship window. A few weeks back there was reason to discuss, with Chris Paul hobbled again, if that window was still open. Harden has forced the window open, at least somewhat.
But he’s going to need a lot more help to get it wide enough for the Rockets to climb through it.